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Case of dog put down after possible rabies exposure: owner says he was unaware of quarantine option

Health Department says communication was clear

April 30, 2012|by Linda Russell and Paula Morehouse, Ky3 News |

SEYMOUR, Mo.--  A man from Seymour says he was told the state veterinarian ordered his family's beloved pet to be euthanized after a rabid skunk showed up at the family's home.   

Phone calls and e-mail messages kept coming in to KY3 News since our report on the dog's quick death sentence on Friday.  KY3 looked further into the case, and state health officials now say there was another option.

The family that owned the dog is heart-broken. 

"It's just not fair," said 11-year-old Jade Wright. 

Seven-year-old Macy, which hadn't had a rabies vaccine, was in the same back yard where Luke Wright shot a rabid skunk.

"They have no proof that the skunk bit her, and they have no proof that there was any physical contact.  They're just going off a 'what if,'" said Luke Wright.

On Friday, Macy's family said good-bye, and she was put down.  Webster County and State Health officials say it was the right thing to do. 


"It is very very sad when a family loses a pet, and certainly we don't wish that on anybody, but we have to look at the overall picture, which is to protect our community.  They did exactly the right thing by turning the dog over so we could know for sure that our community is safe, and we appreciate that," saod Jaci McReynolds, administrator of the Webster County Health Unit.

Health officials say, for an unvaccinated dog that came in close contact with a rabid skunk, the options were either a six-month quarantine or euthanasia. 

"The final decision was really up to the dog owner, but, again, it's a recommendation based on experts in the field, and, in this case, the recommendation is it really needs to be put down so we can have it tested," McReynolds said.

"I was not going to give them permission to kill my dog," said Luke Wright. 

He received paperwork from the state on Monday that clearly states he had two choices, but Wright says he wasn't given a choice. 

"They guy we were talking with from the health department received a phone call, and he said that it was the state vet, and that quarantine was no longer an option," Wright said.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services sent KY3 a copy of its one and only order involving Macy: an order of quarantine or euthanasia.   (You can see the document attached to this report.)

The Webster County Health Unit says Macy's brain is being tested for rabies.  Results should be in by Wednesday.  The Wright family was told to contact their family physician for recommendations on whether the family members should receive the series of rabies vaccinations.

Without vaccination, rabies is 100 percent fatal, McReynolds says.  You can learn more at the Centers for Disease Control website.

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