One of the things they drilled into us in school was public health protocols after a dog bite. In some cases they have to be segregated for ten days. Sometimes it is longer. Our euthanasia release requires people to verify that their dog hasn’t bit someone in the last ten days. The reason is that if a dog is going to show signs of rabies they will do it in ten days. If the dog is dead then you don’t know if the person who was bit needs rabies treatment. 

Ok, here’s this week’s scenario. A lady brings a dog suffering from heatstroke in yesterday. As she’s getting her out of the car the dog bites the person’s neck. The dog is just crazed. She’s lunging at us and totally disoriented.

We send the human to the hospital because the bite needs taken care of. ERs automatically fill out a dog bite report. In 10 days we would have to sign a form saying that the dog is free of signs of rabies.

The dog dies from aftereffects of heat stroke. She’s never had a rabies vaccine. She was unusually aggressive and drooling before death. She has an open bite report with the health department. The lady’s other dog died of similar signs the day before.  I’m not sure what the protocol is for this all. Is this dog going to have to be rabies tested?

I called the health department. I explained who I was and gave the name. The paperwork was on the lady’s desk. I explained that the dog had died. I was about to ask if they wanted testing when the lady said that it was “just fine then” and thanked me for calling so she could close the file. I was dumbfounded. I wanted to explain the reason for bite reports and ten days checkups and that I was 99.9% sure this dog died of heat stroke but the little voice in my head was saying, “Yeah, but….” and didn’t they want to even consider testing?

I’m not feeling very protected by the health department right now.