I try to avoid politics, so on this one: you be the judge.
"On Aug. 31, Army Spc. Kevin Shumaker, 24, died of rabies after being bitten by a stray dog in Afghanistan. Shumaker was the first U.S. soldier to die of rabies since the Vietnam War. In response, the Army launched a public education offensive, hanging up posters like the one above that warn of the deadly viruses lurking within even the cuddliest of creatures." According to a study released by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center in September, 20,522 service members sustained animal bites between January 2001 and December 2010. That's more than 5.6 bites per day, if you're keeping score at home.
The vast majority of the troops were bitten on U.S. soil, where rabies is rare. (So rare, in fact, that Spc. Shumaker is the only U.S. citizen to die of the disease this year.) But, of the 643 servicemen and women who were bit on the battlefield, only 117 received rabies vaccines and only 25 received the treatment that would be necessary for recovery had they actually contracted the disease. Army medical officials are currently retracing their steps to make sure there aren't any soldiers other than Spc. Shumaker who were bitten by rabid animals. The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits soldiers from “adopting as pets or mascots, caring for, or feeding any type of domestic or wild animal.” As the Armed Forces Health Surveillance System study points out, "even minor animal bite injuries can have serious consequences — particularly bites inflicted by wild animals (including bats, foxes, skunks, and raccoons), feral cats and dogs, and pets with unknown rabies vaccination statuses."
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