Rabies vaccine certificates

  • Updated


Shelterluv uses the rabies vaccination FORM 51 format suggested by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV). This article is meant to explain the fields shown on this form and how they are created in Shelterluv. It does not replace or supersede local and state regulations regarding requirements for rabies vaccinations. For more information, please check:

Explanation of certificate fields

1-year versus 3-year licensed rabies vaccines

Rabies vaccines sold by manufacturers for dogs and cats are either labeled as 1-year or 3-year vaccines. This indicates how long the vaccine certificate can be considered valid. A 1-year licensed vaccine is valid for only 1 year. A 3-year licensed vaccine can be valid for up to 3 years. This distinction is hard-coded into Shelterluv based on the rabies vaccine product and manufacturer and does not have to do with when the pet is actually next due for a vaccine.

The Animal Control License section on a Rabies Vaccine Certificate will populate when using our licensing module to record a license on an animal record. You can find more information about this here in our Help Center: How do licenses work?

Note: There are currently no 4-year USDA licensed vaccines available in the United States.

Initial versus booster rabies vaccines

The first rabies vaccine a pet receives is considered the initial dose. This initial dose is most often given between 3 and 4 months of age, but varies by state and jurisdiction. If an animal has ever had a rabies vaccine before in its life, then any subsequent rabies vaccines will be considered booster doses.

Important Note: If you have evidence of a previous rabies vaccine, you must enter it in Shelterluv. The system marks all pets with one rabies vaccine as "initial dose" and all pets with more than one rabies vaccine in its history as "booster dose."

Next due rabies vaccines 

The "next vaccination due by" field is populated based on the information entered into Shelterluv when the animal is vaccinated. This is when the pet requires another vaccine, usually in 1 or 3 years.

Note: For the majority of pets in shelters, rabies will be valid for 1 year, regardless if a 1-year or 3-year licensed vaccine was used. Remember that the 3-year USDA licensed vaccine can be good for UP TO 3 years. Depending on your jurisdiction, a 3-year rabies vaccine can be used as the initial dose and the certificate will only be valid for 1 year.

Veterinarian's name, license, and signature

When entering a rabies vaccine, the supervising veterinarian drop-down field must be filled out. The veterinarian may then choose to manually write or stamp their license number signature onto the certificate, or they may enter this information in Shelterluv's configuration (Configuration > Medical > Staffing > Edit the staff veterinarian or surgeon and enter the information).

Note: For an optimal signature, we recommend using a tablet or touch screen instead of a mouse.


Rabies vaccines performed by other veterinarians

For rabies vaccinations that you are entering from outside clinics and veterinarians you normally don't work with, you can create a generic staff vet called "Community Veterinarian" so you can select it in the "Supervising veterinarian" field. Then you can type the actual vet's name in the "Vaccinated by" field. This is for your records and reporting purposes only; you should not generate a rabies certificate for these vaccinations.

Clinic Information

The clinic information will automatically populate on the certificate based on the clinic selected in the drop down menu when completing the vaccine. These clinics are configurable in Configuration > Medical > Clinic Contact Information.

Owner information

The owner information will automatically populate on the certificate as long as there is an intake on the record. This means that animals entered using the "Previously Owned Animal" function will not have owner information populated until an intake is processed.

If the animal only came into your care temporarily to receive the rabies vaccination, then you should use a Service Intake/Outcome for their visit. Upon intake, the owner information section will populate with your organization's information until the Service Outcome is completed.


Lot Expiration Date

In keeping with the NASPHV guidelines for FORM 51, the lot expiration date does not appear on the rabies certificate.