Rabid Raccoon

Lilavati

Arbitrary and Capricious
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
7,644
Likes
0
Points
36
Age
45
Location
Alexandria, VA
#1
Hi everyone. I know I've not been around for a while. Things have been crazy at work for a long time, and, worse, the web filter there is convinced this site is about marijuana. So whoever is smoking weed . . . knock it off . . .you're getting the forum blocked so I can't read it at lunch! :D

I'm posting today with a warning. Everyone is fine . . me, Mike, Sarama, Docket, but there's a lot of "ifs" that could have gone wrong. In particular, I want to tell everyone to keep your rabies shots up to date . . . not only to protect your dogs from rabies (and I am aware that the shots are required more often than is strictly necessary) but because its the law, and when push comes to shove, you're going to be really glad you obeyed the law.

My personal H*ll of the past few days started when Mike texted me. He was home from work, I was still at the office. "Dogs killed a raccoon"

This wasn't really shocking. We have a 1/2 acre fenced backyard, and Sarama is a smart, fast, predatory dog. She's knocked off 4 squirrels, that we know of (no, we do not encourage her, but we don't scold her either).

After some back and forth, I find out that the dogs must have killed the raccoon in the morning, before we went to work, and did so so quickly we didn't hear the ruckus inside the house. Mike found the body when he let them out again in the afternoon. The dogs are unhurt, except for some scrapes from an earlier spat with each other (which we do discourage, strongly)

I tell him to call the vet and make arrangements for booster shots. I know we have rabies in the area, and I figure you can't be too careful.

The next morning, the vet, a man whom I greatly trust for good reason, gives the dogs an exam, gives them their boosters, and suggests I call the county to pick up the coon and test it. "Its free, and your husband touched the body. You really should find out."

Thinking this sounded not unreasonable, I called AC and told them about the incident and asked them to come get the coon. This is not an "evil AC" story. So far, all of my interactions with the local government have been shockingly polite, pleasant, and reasonable.

So an older woman from AC shows up, asks to take a look at the dogs and the coon. Then she asks me to sign a quarantine form. The law in the county is that dogs that have a run in with a potentially rabid animal (and I am soon to find out ALL coons are potential rabid, with good reason) need to be confined. This is basically house arrest. They can't leave the house except on a leash and only to go potty, they can't leave the county, etc. (it will turn out she was slightly wrong about these restrictions, but we'll get to that). I need to keep them confined until I get the results. She also assures me, as the vet did, that my dogs are well protected, and they will be fine. She is very pleased they've already had their boosters.

Ok, fine A day passes, and we don't hear from the health department, who does the rabies testing. First thing the next morning, though there's a message on my voicemail (they called so early that I didn't even hear it).

The coon tested POSITIVE.

:yikes::yikes::yikes::yikes::yikes::yikes:

I said a number of things that the bad words filter on Chaz will definitely object to.

The guy from the health department, in the message, told me that the dogs would have to remain under "house arrest" for 45 days, which I knew, and left me a number to call with questions.

15 minutes later, AC called. The very nice man on the phone (I don't trust AC, as a general rule, but this guy was genuinely very nice) wanted to make sure that I had heard from the health dept and that I knew the quarantine rules. He also wanted to know if I had any questions. He also, when I asked, very helpfully clarified the rules.

THIS IS IMPORTANT, and consistent with the quarantine form (which I'd read, and had questions ready) and the regulations, which I also read. Because my dogs were up to date on their shots, they merely had to be "confined." Now, this is a serious pain the neck,and its a good thing we don't have holiday plans (we weren't going to the farm this year). But because they were up to date (and hadn't bitten anyone), we could let them off leash our own yard under supervision. We could have other people to our house as long as we kept track of them and did not let them interact with the dogs. We were free to interact with the dogs as much as we liked. He suggested keeping the cats away from them (not a problem) but we didn't have to. No, they can't go off the property (unless we have to do so to walk them, which we do not, or unless they have to go to the vet) and they can't leave the county, and if we leave the county they have to be left with the vet or at a secure facility, but other than not being able to leave them out in the yard without one of us actually standing there with them, our routine doesn't have to change all that much.

The first lady had given me the rules for if they had bitten someone, but weren't vaccinated (and had NOT had a run in with a rabid animal), which are stronger (can't even be off leash on our own yard, etc, can't have anyone over). So, don't let your not-up-to-date dog bite someone, because, other than the obvious, the rules are a major pain. But its the third set of rules that I want to talk about.

If my dogs had not been up to date on their shots they would have to be under "strict confinement." We would have to get approval to keep them on the property. If we did get permission, we would have had to kept them locked in the spare room in the basement, and only interact with them to feed, water, and clean up. If we did not get permission, they would have to go to a special facility, which would cost a fortune and would not be a good place. (This is not to mention, of course, the increased risk of rabies). Had the dogs not been up to date (even if, scientifically, they were vaccinated), our lives would pretty quickly have descended into a very expensive underworld (or had very, very, very unhappy dogs confined to the basement). I also suspect that neither AC nor the health dept would have been half so nice.

We are all responsible dogs owners here, and I know everyone has had their shots. But please, make sure you obey the law on rabies, science be damned. Its not worth it not to. I never imagined that my dogs would ACTUALLY have a run in with a rabid animal.

Further discussions with AC and then the health department concluded that neither I nor Mike needed shots. Mike had handled the coon appropriately, and I not at all. The dogs were not injured or covered in raccoon drool that could have gotten on us. Although we have some minor injuries on our hands (from other things!) they were not open or large. Nope, we're fine. No, the cats don't need boosters. Yes, ma'am, your dogs WILL be fine. Its almost unheard of for them not to be, its just a precaution so we can make sure that, in case of the infinitesimal chance they get sick (and we've never seen it in our careers) we know precisely where they have been and who they have been contact with and so they don't get hurt or sick with anything else that could complicate the situation. Thank you for keeping your shots up to date and being cooperative, here are our direct lines if you have more questions.

I have since learned the following. Fairfax has one of the highest rates of rabies in the country. Half of those cases are raccoons. 44% of raccoons tested (which, admittedly is not a representative sample) have rabies (I found all this out on my own . . . I think they didn't want to scare me). AC did tell me that (once the results came back) more often than not, when dogs kill a coon, even if the dogs started it (from the body, they did) its rabid. Its very unusual for house dogs to kill a healthy coon because they are smart and quick. (I elected not to inform him that my dogs regularly knock off squirrels, which I doubt house dogs often kill either!). However, his point was valid.

So, we have 45 days to wait, but everything should be fine. We have told the dogs not to perform any more "public service" please, bought them a bunch of new toys, and are going to move somethings around to give them a bit more run of the house to help with not being able to be outside for long periods of time.

Lessons learned:

1) Keep your rabies shots up to date. Keep your rabies shots up to date. Keep your rabies shots up to date.

2) Do make sure you fully understand your rights and the restrictions if your dogs have a run in with a rabid animal. The first AC lady, though very nice, had the rules wrong, and the real rules are not nearly as bad (those little details matter for your sanity, health, and convenience). And generally, ask questions, at least if people are reasonable and friendly. At least in Fairfax, my experience has been that AC and the Health dept are helpful.

3) Do not assume, as I did, that the odds of an animal being rabid are close to nil. It varies a lot by area. My vet was right to tell me to have it tested. And I was very, very right to get those booster shots. But my initial thought was that we were getting boosters out of an abundance of caution and that of course the coon wasn't rabid. Wrong.
 
Last edited:

Lilavati

Arbitrary and Capricious
Joined
Sep 3, 2007
Messages
7,644
Likes
0
Points
36
Age
45
Location
Alexandria, VA
#2
Now, I do think the restrictions we are under are a bit over the top, and my first, country-bred, instinct is to say that the next coon (hopefully there will never be one) we quietly dispose of in the dark of night. But we'd still have to take the dogs in for the boosters, because I won't risk NOT doing so (and although I don't think the vet reported the incident, in some places I think he has too). And we wouldn't know, for sure, whether it was sick (and it darn well might be . . . the coon LOOKED fine when I saw the body). And the restrictions, though a pain and a little extreme/out of date . . . this is a 100% fatal disease. Hell, I considered getting Mike the shots anyway . . .just in case. I can't say the county is out of line on this.

Anyway, I wanted to share this story with everyone. I'll update you all if anything changes.
 

Snark

Mutts to you
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
4,023
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Midwest
#3
Thanks for the info... Glad everyone's going to be okay.

I just googled rabies in my county and, according to the public health site, only bats have tested positive in the past 30 years. All of our animals (including the horses) get rabies shots every year.
 

crazedACD

Active Member
Joined
Mar 13, 2012
Messages
3,048
Likes
0
Points
36
Location
West Missouri
#4
Yikes! Yes very good thing they were vaccinated. Here the law has changed to every three years so I think that is a good compromise with those that were concerned about over-vaccinating.

Thanks for the info... Glad everyone's going to be okay.

I just googled rabies in my county and, according to the public health site, only bats have tested positive in the past 30 years. All of our animals (including the horses) get rabies shots every year.
I used to be on a horse forum, and one girl had her horses stomp a raccoon to death...and then was watching them as they were licking the blood :eek:. I think the coon tested negative thankfully.
 

Opal

New Member
Joined
Dec 3, 2013
Messages
26
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
North Pole
#5
Sorry about the coon, but thank you for sharing your story.
I think it's easy for some of us (*me* lol) to put those "unlikely" events on the back burner. It's good to get a wake up call every now and again to remind us to be vigilant. Thank goodness you had your shots up to date!!
 

Members online

No members online now.
Top