May 22, 2007

A furry family member in need

My week started off with a bang. Around 4:00 a.m. Monday morning, one of my dogs awakened me with some ferocious barking. To be sure, Diego is very protective of his yard, house and family. He will bow-wow at people across the street in their backyards, just so they know that they aren't welcome. But to us, he's just a happy 90+ pound puppy.

Anyway. I stepped out back onto the deck and saw Diego barking his head off and dancing around part of the fence about 20 feet away, trying to get at something. All I could see in the dim light was something furry, but I could heard snarling, growling and spitting. I thought at first that it might be a bobcat, so I flipped on the backyard light. Instead, I saw the angriest raccoon that I've ever seen. A second later, it jumped off of the fence onto my dog's head.

I might have mentioned that Diego is a big lovable puppy, albeit a protective one. This tactic caught him off guard for a brief instant, during which the raccoon bit him on the muzzle and jumped back onto the fence. I started chucking heavy things at the raccoon; I've got a pretty good arm, but I didn't score a direct enough hit to knock the damned thing off. However, when it raced along the fence towards me, I smacked it pretty good with a deck chair, at which point it raced away.

I called my dog over to check him out. Except for the blood on his muzzle, he seemed fine. And I knew from his calm demeanor that Osama bin Raccoon had left the building. As I cleaned off his wound, though, it hit me: the raccoon that bit my dog must have had rabies. So I confined him in the garage and called animal control.

The AC guy who came out was quite sympathetic to our problem. He also informed me of my options in the matter. For those of you not living in Virginia, those options might be different, but my guess is that they're similar. And they are:


  • Euthanize the bitten or scratched animal
  • Isolate the possibly infected animal for

    • 90 days if vaccinations are up to date
    • 180 days if they've expired

Since nothing says "I love you" to someone quite like killing them because it's the easiest way out, I'm looking at option number 2, or more specifically 2a. As it turns out, Diego's vaccinations were a couple of months overdue. What's even worse is that we had an appointment at the vet's office for Tuesday morning.

I spoke to the health department and they sent me a copy of the requirements for the pen within a pen. I'll be headed to Home Depot with the plans to figure out what the cost of materials will be. Doesn't really matter, as I'll be building the effing thing regardless.

I asked the Animal Control guy if any places around here could house an isolated animal for 6 months. He mentioned that the pound could do it, but that his boss would be unlikely to approve such a request due to the large number of animals flowing through the pound. So it's on to construction of a big fucking cage that my dog will, best case, have to live in for 6 months without any of the family being able to touch him. Considering how gregarious he is, Diego could suffer some serious emotinal traumua because he'll think that he's being punished. Or he could be fine when he comes out and still want to give me some of his good loving kisses which, truthfully, I don't feel that I deserve right now.. Worst case, of course, is that he goes rabid anyway and I'll have to put him down.

So that's where I am. A crazy ass animal attacks a four-legged member of the family and gets away, and the victim gets rewarded with long term isolation and possible execution. And my family will get to watch him suffer in a cage during that time without being able to rub his tummy and make him feel better.

I just want him to be okay. He deserves better than this.

Update: Anyone else in the state of Virginia would be well advised to read this document and the associated attachments.

Update: I found this article from 13 years ago in which a family puppy was bitten before the mandatory vaccination had been given. The family member volunteered for 3 post-exposure rabies vaccines so that she could play with the dog and keep him people friendly. I've left a message for the public health supervisor about the article, inquiring in that would be a possibility for me. Yes, I know about the entire series of shots and where they're administered, but I'm perfectly willing to go through with it if it will keep my dog happy while he's incarcerated. To be fair, it would make me happy to be able to play with him, too. Hopefully that hasn't been outlawed yet in the interest of "protecting the people".

I'll provide updates as they occur.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 03:20 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment
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