Among companion animals, dogs are unmatched in their devotion, loyalty and friendship to humankind. Anyone who has ever loved a dog can attest to its hundred-fold return. The excitement your dog shows when you come home, the wagging tail at the sound of the leash being taken from its hook, the delight in the tossing of a tennis ball, and the head nestled in your lap-those are only some of the rewards of being a dog owner.

Owning a dog is not just a privilege-it's a responsibility. These animals depend on us for, at minimum, food and shelter, and deserve much more. If you are considering taking a dog into your life, you need to think seriously about the commitment that dog ownership entails. If you already have a dog, you need to consider if you are fulfilling all your obligations as its owner.

The AKC is committed to helping dog owners raise happy, healthy dogs. The list below is certainly not exhaustive, but it contains some of the essential ways you can be the best dog owner you can be.

Follow this link to view a selection of AKC's 101 suggestions:  ​Be a Responsible Dog Owner

AKC Member Club

Santa Maria Kennel Club

Pets & Disasters

When it comes to your pets, they are as dependent on you as your children are.  If it is evident that you will have to evacuate, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND; however, keep in mind that pets are not allowed in public shelters, for health reasons.  In most states, trained guide dogs for the blind, hearing impaired, or handicapped will be allowed to stay in emergency shelters with their owners.  Check with local emergency management officials for more information.  Here are a few things to think about concerning your pets and disasters.


  • ​​Contact your local animal shelter, humane society, veterinarian, or emergency management office for information on caring for pets in an emergency.  Also, see if your veterinarian will accept your pet in an emergency.
  • You will need a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and turn around inside.
  • Make sure your pet has a properly fitted collar that includes current license and rabies tags.  Include an identification tag that has your name, address, and phone number.  Keep your pet's shot records current and know where the records are.  Keep a current photo for identification purposes.
  • When assembling emergency supplies for the house hold, include items for pets in a "Pet Survival Kit".

             * Extra food and bottled water

             * Kitty litter and pan (if needed)
             * Large capacity self-feeder and water dispenser
             * Extra medications


  • Bring your pets inside immediately.
  • Keep small pets away from cats and dogs.
  • Separate dogs and cats, even if they normally get along.


  • If after a disaster you have to leave town, take your pets with you.  Pets are unlikely to survive on their own.
  • In the first few days after the disaster, leash your pets when you go outside. 
  • Always maintain close contact.  The behavior of your pets may change after an emergency.  Normally quiet and friendly pets become aggressive or defensive. 
  • Watch animals closely.  Leash dogs and place them in a fenced yard with access to shelter and water.

If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your pet in great danger!  Confine your pet to a safe area inside -- NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET CHAINED OUTSIDE!  Place a notice outside in a visible area, advising what pets are in the house and where they are located.  Provide a phone number where you, or a contact can be reached as well as the name and number of your vet.​​

Santa Maria Kennel Club

P.O. Box 1143
    Santa Maria, Ca  93456


Jean Dodds, DVM

The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It’s a matter of professional judgment and choice.

*Vaccine:​  Distemper (MLV) (e.g. Merck Nobivac DPV, or NeoVacD monovalent CDV only). Optional is recombinant rCDV = Merial Recombitek, but only comes in combo with CPV and Hepatitis/Adenovirus or more antigens.

     Initial:​  9-10 weeks; 14-15 weeks

     1st Annual Booster:​  At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only, or serum DPV antibody titers

     Readministration Interval:​  None needed. Duration of immunity 7.5 / 15 years by studies. Probably lifetime.

     Comments:​  Can have side effects if given too young (less than 8 weeks). Also can cause post-vaccinal encephalitis (PVE); see             below.

*Vaccine:​  Parvovirus (MLV) (e.g. Merck Nobivac DPV, or NeoPar monovalent CPV only)

     Initial:​  9-10 weeks; 14-15; 18 weeks. In endemic parvovirus outbreaks, MLV CPV vaccine can be given at 6 weeks initially; then           followed up with protocol above.

     1st Annual Booster:  At 1 year MLV Distemper/ Parvovirus only, or serum DPV antibody titers

     Readministration Interval:​  None needed. Duration of immunity 7.5 years by studies. Probably lifetime. Longer studies pending.

     Comments:​  At 6 weeks of age, less than 30% of puppies are protected but 100% are exposed to the ubiquitous CPV.

*Vaccine:​   Rabies (only killed)

     Initial:​   20-24 weeks or as legally required. Use only thimerosal (mercury-free) rabies vaccine = Merial IMRAB TF-1, or Boehringer       Ingelheim RabVac 1TF 

     1st Annual Booster:​  1 year after puppy rabies (give 3-4 weeks apart from Dist/Parvo booster) Killed 3 year thimerosal (mercury-       free) rabies vaccine = Merial IMRAB TF-3, or Boehringer Ingeleim RabVac 3-TF

     Readministration IntervalL:​  3 yr. vaccine given as required by law in California (follow your state/provincial requirements) 

     Comments:​  Rabid animals may infect dogs or any other mammal including people.


Distemper @ 6 weeks or younger

Not recommended. At this age, maternal antibodies form the mother’s milk (colostrum) will partially neutralize the                          vaccine, and giving MLV CDV vaccine earlier can cause vaccine-induced signs of distemper especially seizures and                              paralysis.

Parvovirus @ 6 weeks

In endemic parvovirus outbreaks, MLV CPV vaccine can be given at 6 weeks initially; then followed up with usual protocol above.

Hepatitis (Adenovirus 2) MLV often in a combo with CDV and CPV 

Not preferred. Giving MLV CDV with Adenovirus-2 causes immune suppression for up to 10 days in puppies and increases chances of post-vaccinal encephalitis (PVE). Note: Merial Recombitek combo vaccine cannot cause PVE. IF adenovirus vaccination is desired, can give to older adolescents with oral or intranasal (not injectable) Bordetella as it induces interferon that protects against the upper respiratory viruses.


Not recommended. Disease usually only affects young puppies that are malnourished and parasitized. Rare clinical disease. Mild self-limiting disease; produces orange-colored stool. Virus killed by 80 degrees F and dry housing.

Leptospirosis (4-Way killed vaccine)

​Not recommended. Rare clinical cases; a reportable zoonotic disease, so check local veterinary and public health agencies for documented cases. Vaccine side effects common. 4-way vaccine often contains the wrong serovars causing disease in local areas. There is poor cross-protection between serovars. Two doses initially needed given 3-4 weeks apart followed by yearly boosters.

​Lyme Vaccine, Recombinant

Not recommended. Most cases are in Northeast and around the Great Lakes. Annual booster required after initial 2-dose series.​

Bordetella (Oral or Intranasal) (killed bacterin). Injectable version (not recommended)

Generally not recommended. Oral preferred over intranasal, as it cannot spray vaccine around the face and those close by. Injectable not recommended as it does not release interferon to protect against the other upper respiratory viruses (kennel cough). Not 100% effective; may be required for boarding or grooming. Offer to sign written waiver to hold facility harmless instead.​

​Parainfluenza Vaccine (MLV)

​Included as part of combo vaccines; but rarely clinically important or needed.

Influenza Bi-Valent H3N2/H3N8 Killed Vaccine

​Being widely recommended as these viruses are highly contagious. Not recommended routinely by Dr. Dodds as disease is mild and self-limiting unless fever is very high (>104 degrees F) and for those dogs harboring Streptococcus in their respiratory tracts. Distinguished from common kennel cough which does not produce a fever unless secondary pneumonia follows in 7-10 days. Influenza produces a fever immediately. 2 doses required 3-4 weeks apart and boosted annually. 

​Giardia Vaccine or Ringworm Vaccine

​No longer available; not recommended.


​Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request. Visit The Rabies Challenge Fund for more information.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843​