Pet's shots must be up to date for boarding

We recently thought about boarding our dog for a few days at a local veterinary clinic (Jackson Veterinary Clinic in Medford) while we went for a short trip to Portland. I was shocked when the vets office informed me that it is now state law that they cannot board any dog unless it has had an annual physical.

Is this really true? I don't need a physical to book a hotel room, so why does our pet need one? Which of our esteemed lawmakers is behind this new law?

— Scott W., Medford

Scott, we think there's been some confusion. Allow us to clarify.

For starters, there is no state law that says a physical exam is required to board your pet. While some clinics may have this rule, the state does not regulate boarding facilities, said Lori Makinen, executive director of the Veterinary Medical Examining Board.

An employee at the clinic in question also confirmed that they do not require pets to have a physical exam before boarding. However, Jackson Veterinary Clinic does ask that your pet be up-to-date with its vaccines — specifically ones for rabies, distemper/parvo and bordetella (kennel cough) for dogs; and rabies, feline leukemia and upper respiratory for cats.

This is where the state comes in. According to Oregon's Veterinary Practice Standards, an animal must receive a physical exam before a vet can issue vaccinations or provide treatment.

This rule stemmed from an unfortunate case in which two German shepherds were taken to an Oregon veterinarian, one for vaccines and the other for euthanasia. Somehow, the "treatments" were switched.

Therefore, the law was established in order to (1) ensure the pet's immune system is healthy and able to respond to the vaccine and (2) to encourage communication between the vet and client in order to prevent mishaps.

As a side note, it is up to the vet to decide whether or not to charge for this exam, Makinen said.

Scott, your dog must receive vaccines to stay in the clinic's kennel and to receive vaccines your dog must get a physical exam so, in a roundabout way, your dog must get a physical before it can board. The good news is boosters for rabies and distemper/parvo only need to be administered every three years and bordetella, every year.

Next time, show up with proof of vaccines, and your dog will be all set.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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