The same is true of canine vaccines. And if you're inclined to think, well, that's a problem for the dogs to sort out, think again. Rabid dogs, for starters, are a threat to everyone. More worrisome, leptospirosis, a vaccine-preventable bacterial infection carried by rats, spreads readily to dogs and then to humans. A serious outbreak struck the New York-New Jersey area in 2017, and Brooklyn itself was hit in 2009. The disease is often fatal in dogs. In humans it can lead to liver failure, respiratory problems, meningitis and, in extreme cases, death.
"Outbreaks of disease among unvaccinated dogs can be devastating to a community," said Brian Hare, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center. "Unvaccinated dogs going to daycares or dog parks, or even walking around their neighborhoods, are at a much higher risk of contracting, and spreading, these diseases ... If you love your dog and the people around you, vaccinate them."