Monday, April 5, 2010

Circle of Friends Shelter and Rabies

On March 9, two dogs were picked up as strays and brought Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

One was a cattle dog. The larger dog was deemed unsuitable for adoption and killed. The cattle dog was sent to a foster family on March 20th. She started to exhibit some severe medical problems, including vomiting, shaking, inability to control her body. The foster family brought her back to the shelter on March 27th where she was euthanized and samples of her brain sent in for testing. She tested positive for rabies.

The public, volunteers and staff who may have interacted with the dogs between March 15-20 were told to call the public health department.  Most of those who called were considered low risk and the health department suggested all visited their physician. None had been bitten by the dog, but even though no one was bitten, at least 10 people were told to get the prophylactic series of vaccines.

Cookie, the rabid dog, never had contact with other dogs at the shelter. But on April 3, the Board of Animal Health rec'd 35 dogs be killed.  Twenty-six of those dogs are at the shelter, while the remaining nine are in adopted homes. Remember, Cookie did not bite any person or animal.

Rabies is not something to mess with, for sure. At the same time, it is a difficult virus to transmit, and during its incubation period, the infected animal is not contagious. Not that I am suggesting folks just wait until the animal starts going all neurotic on them, just that the likelihood of Cookie transmitting the virus to animals and people she never interacted with is incredibly low.
"It’s also possible that some of the 35 dogs have vaccination records and their previous owners still have such records. Officials are looking into this possibility, Keller said, but, at this point, Circle of Friends doesn’t have any such records..”
I am confused. Every state or city/county has laws regarding the rabies vaccine. Most shelters require adopted animals be vaccinated. Some shelters vaccinate incoming animals, while others save money by only vaccinating adopted animals.

So while I can understand that Circle of Friends would not have vaccine records for the 26 animals at their shelter, they should have vaccine records for the animals they adopted out. If Circle of Friends does not vaccinate adopted animals, then perhaps they should refrain from casting aspersions on other people who don't. It's a bit of the kettle calling the pot black, yes?

Right now, none of these dogs are contagious. It is unlikely any have the disease. Being responsible is good, and I think responsible dog guardians should vaccinate against rabies and distemper appropriately. Define that how you will. For me, it means I get Mina's titers done and Celeste will be vaccinated every 3-5 years or titered. They romp in the woods and would have no qualms scuffling with local, angry, rabid wildlife. We could be India, and for that reason alone, I take rabies and its prevention pretty darn seriously. But I don't think one isolated case of rabies involving a dog who had no contact w/ other dogs and limited contact with people should result in the death of 35 dogs or the prophylactic vaccination of >10 people.


YesBiscuit! said...

How about my dogs - should I kill them? Cos I looked at the picture of the rabid dog and then looked at my dogs. North Dakota?

Jennie said...

We're going through a similar outbreak-typed situation in Philadelphia, except ours is strep zoo which is treatable and doesn't usually affect humans. It's terrible. What will probably happen is 120+ dogs will end up being euthanized because they won't bring them back after the facility is sanitized.

Frustrating beyond belief.

Rinalia said...

@YesBiscuit! I know! I was about to kill both my dogs as well. It's very rare, but rabies transmission via photograph can occur! ;)

@Jennie: That's just awful. Any publicity? Killing 120+ dogs...just wrong.

Jennie said...

The PSPCA is publicly saying they'll be kept in airline crates in a garage at their other local until...... forever? Educated people realize this is not a solution. Some dogs have been at the facility for 8+ months already, another 8 months in airline crates will probably kill them from stress alone.