Canine hybrids are defined as the offspring of wild canine species (e.g., wolves, foxes, coyotes, jackals, and dingoes) crossbred with domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), the offspring of such hybrids crossbred with domestic dogs, or the offspring of such hybrids crossbred with wild canine species. The AVMA strongly opposes the ownership of canine hybrids for companionship, other personal use, breeding, or commercial interests. The AVMA supports the prohibition of sale, trade, exchange, or transfer of canine hybrids for such purposes. Canine hybrids may constitute a significant hazard to human health, other animal species, and the environment, and there is insufficient evidence supporting their suitability as companion animals.
The AVMA recognizes that veterinarians may have clients who own or are considering ownership of canine hybrids. Veterinarians should be familiar with all applicable laws and regulations pertaining to canine hybrids in their jurisdictions. Providing veterinary medical care to a canine hybrid may be considered an illegal act in jurisdictions where private ownership of canine hybrids is illegal. In jurisdictions where private ownership of canine hybrids is permitted, veterinarians may be required to verify legal ownership before accepting canine hybrids as patients.
Veterinarians who have a veterinarian-client-patient relationship involving a canine hybrid should advise their clients of the following:
- Laws in their jurisdiction may prohibit private ownership of canine hybrids or require them to have a license or permit.
- Data on the pathogenesis of rabies in canine hybrids are insufficient to develop evidence- based quarantine policies for these animals. Consequently, public health officials may not permit 10-day post-bite quarantine of canine hybrids after they bite a person and may instead require euthanasia and rabies testing. Likewise, public health officials may require euthanasia of canine hybrids if they are exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal, regardless of whether they have been previously vaccinated with a rabies vaccine labeled for domestic dogs.
Prior to rabies vaccination of canine hybrids, the veterinarian should inform the client that rabies vaccine is not approved by USDA for use in canine hybrids and that there have been no studies to prove the efficacy or safety of the vaccine in these animals. If the state or jurisdiction has no law against keeping and/or providing veterinary medical care to a canine hybrid, rabies vaccination of canine hybrids may be considered discretionary use of a biologic by the veterinarian. In addition, the veterinarian should inform the client that a canine hybrid that has received a rabies vaccination may be considered unvaccinated if it bites someone or is potentially exposed to rabies, depending on the jurisdiction. The veterinarian should consider having the client sign a consent form documenting that they have been informed of these items.
At a minimum, the discussion and client consent should be documented in the patient’s medical record.
Veterinarians who wish to vaccinate canine hybrids against rabies using vaccines labeled by USDA for use in domestic dogs should contact their professional liability insurance carriers to understand their coverage. Most professional liability policies, including the AVMA-PLIT sponsored professional liability policy, contain exclusions for claims based on illegal acts.
Liability insurance coverage determinations are typically made on a case-by-case basis depending on specific circumstances and the allegations that are made against the veterinarian and/or clinic.