October 28, 2007

Whatever happened to common sense?



I have come to believe that local animal control officers suffer hysteria over suspected rabies cases. A little knowledge would go a long way to prevent such unnecessary quarantines. Rabies virus is a neurological disease that is spread in the saliva of an infected animal. There is no way it can be contracted by ingesting a dead animal. The saliva - and the virus - dry out within 24 hours. Where's the common sense?

Family raising money for quarantined dog

By Donna Swicegood
Friday, October 26, 2007

Back in August, Tara Castorena faced a difficult decision - either euthanize her pit-bull mix puppy or fork over approximately $3,000 to quarantine the dog.

On Aug. 6, Abby, the pup, dragged a dead raccoon into the yard. Iredell County Animal Control retrieved the raccoon and sent it off for testing.


When Castorena couldn’t produce paperwork to prove Abby had her rabies shot, the dog was also seized.


A couple of days later, Castorena learned the rabies test on the raccoon came back as unsatisfactory because the animal was too decomposed to determine if it had rabies.


As a result, Abby had to be treated as if she had rabies. State law dictates that any domestic animal exposed to rabies be quarantined for six months - at the owner’s expense.


After several difficult days weighing options, Castorena decided to find a way to pay for the quarantine. A local vet stepped in and offered the Castorena family a discount of $10 a day for the quarantine.

Castorena said that seemed to be the answer she had been praying for.

And, until recently, it was.


Within the past few weeks, the Castorena family has had a series of medical crises that have put them behind in paying Abby’s quarantine bill. First, Castorena said, her father-in-law was hospitalized in Arizona. Then her 8-year-old daughter, Alexis, had to have emergency surgery. Then, Tara herself had to have surgery, leaving her unable to work.

Now they are some $400 behind on payments to the vet and are doing whatever they can to get the money.

Now, the Iredell County Humane Society is also offering support. Jane Stiles, a volunteer with the Humane Society, said an e-mail blast to supporters has brought in some money. The Humane Society is hoping to raise the rest of the money Castorena needs to get her bill caught up.

Until Feb. 5, Abby is being housed in a cage, where she must remain most of the time, Castorena said.

“I go at least once a week and see her,” she said. Castorena said she’s still upset by the fact that Abby had to be quarantined in the first place. She said there were no bite marks on Abby, and it was obvious the raccoon had been dead for some time.

“She has not shown one single sign (of rabies),” she said.Castorena renewed her offer to home-quarantine Abby in a kennel and allow a vet to do unannounced checks to make sure she is obeying the quarantine.

“At home, she would at least have a big lot to be in and could get some exercise,” she said.

The decision to release Abby from quarantine early is up to the county health director, said Tracy Jackson, who oversees the Iredell County Animal Control department. Health director Donna Campbell was out of town Thursday and couldn’t be reached for comment.


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