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Skunked dog to spend 6 months in isolation

A North Carolina couple has lost their dog for six months — apparently because he got sprayed by a skunk.

Even though he didn’t get bitten, or come in contact with the skunk, the dog has been placed in quarantine for six months by county animal control officials who say the precaution is necessary because the dog’s rabies shot had lapsed.

Something about that stinks.

Michael and April McQueen aren’t coming right out and saying that, but they are politely questioning the decision.

“He didn’t come in contact with the skunk. He never touched the skunk,” said April McQueen, of Kernersville, whose 11-year-old dog, Simon, is now being quarantined by a private veterinarian. “The skunk never touched him. He wasn’t bitten. There was no yelp, and there was no scuffle.”

Given that, the county’s reaction — scary as rabies is —  seems to be an over-reaction.

Skunks can’t pass along rabies through their spray. That seems to be pretty much accepted by health and wildlife organizations. One almost always has to be bitten to get rabies.

Maybe animal control officials are trying to send a message to the public about the importance of keeping rabies vaccinations up to date. But unless they simply don’t believe the family’s claim that the dog wasn’t bitten, and have proof otherwise, Simon should be sent home, in my view.

April says she was walking Simon Thursday night when a skunk sprayed him. As a precaution she took the dog to a veterinarian and learned he was three weeks late on renewing his rabies booster.

“That’s when I was told they were going to have to contact animal control because his rabies shot had lapsed,” she told Fox 8. “The next morning I get a call from animal control, and they’re saying they want to quarantine our dog for six months or euthanize him.”

North Carolina law requires pets exposed to animals prone to carry rabies like skunks, foxes, coyotes, bats and raccoons be either euthanized or quarantined, at the owners expense, for six months if their rabies vaccination isn’t up to date.

But getting sprayed doesn’t constitute exposure — at least that’s what the Arkansas Department of Health says on its website.

Simon’s incarceration is “due to the fact that rabies can take up to six months before a pet shows signs of the virus,” said Tim Jennings with the Forsyth County Animal Control. “It’s why we stress the importance of keeping pets up to date on their vaccinations.”

“Obviously they want to protect the health of the community,” said April’s husband, Michael McQueen, who plans to appeal the decision, based on the lack of contact between skunk and dog, and based as well on the thought of his dog in solitary.

“You think about a 11-year-old dog, used to living inside with us all these years and is just tossed in a cement 4×6 cage with no contact,” he said.

If the McQueen’s appeal is denied Simon would have to remain in isolation, without any human or animal contact, until Dec. 6. That’s going to cost the McQueens about $3,000.

“We just don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said April. “Life can be busy but make sure your animals are vaccinated and up-to-date.”

(Update: Simon has been returned to his family. Details here.)

Comments

Comment from Linda
Time June 12, 2014 at 11:49 am

I am wondering if anyone involved with this case, vet included, knows a Rabies Titer test could be done on Simon to show the antibody levels within his body to rabies. I am sure if he has had one rabies vaccine in his life he is going to have a good immune response. Surely that could be done. It is done for dogs going into Hawaii and for dogs who have allergic reactions to the vaccines instead of re vaccinating.

Comment from Miss Jan
Time June 12, 2014 at 11:52 am

All they have to do is demand a titer (preferably – absolutely! – done by an INDEPENDENT lab not affiliated with the impounding vet and local animal control, and titer testing done on a blood sample drawn by an INDEPENDENT vet hired by the couple – not the vet who stupidly launched this idiocy. Three weeks does not a lapse in antibodies create. This is about money – nothing more, nothing less. Money being paid by the dog’s owners into the coffers of whomever is incarcerating the dog. These people need to lawyer up!

Comment from BeckyH
Time June 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

I hope they win their appeal. This is crazy! What a terrible thing to do, to take an 11 year old dog away from his family for six months. And three weeks late with his rabies booster for a vaccine that probably keeps the dog safe for at least five years!? All they need to do is have the dog tested with a titer.

Comment from reddawg
Time June 13, 2014 at 8:14 am

Looks like the comments here spooked the authorities …..heheheheh

Piedmont couple reunited with dog feared to be quarantined for six months

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