LETTER: County overreacted to puppy bite

To the editor:

I call on you (the citizens of Anson County) to demand accountability from your County Commission and County Manager Megan Garner over the unnecessary euthanization of the 4-month-old puppy Shayla.

The decision to euthanize this puppy before its 10-day isolation was at best, a ridiculous over-reaction, and at worst, strictly a vindictive move against rescue organizations and if so, is a reprehensible abuse of power by the county manager Megan Garner.

It isnot standard practice to euthanize a dog in bite quarantine if there are no signs of rabies. And particularly, it is not standard practice to euthanize a dog showing no signs of rabies before the 10-day isolation period.

People who handle dogs get bitten. It just happens. And that’s why people who handle dogs get the series of rabies vaccine as a precaution before they’re around dogs and cats. If your animal shelter isn’t getting its workers the rabies vaccine as a requirement of employment, that’s something that should change immediately.

Here are the facts as I understand them.

1. There is a dispute over whether the right dog was seized and euthanized.

2. The dog that was seized showed zero signs that she was rabid (the law requires 10 days because that’s how long it takes to show signs) so there was no need for a rush to euthanize.

3. There was no indication that Shayla, at four months, had been exposed to rabies, and dogs aren’t eligible for rabies vaccination until six months.

4. The puppy that did bite the shelter worker was not confiscated — which, if there were evidence that the litter had been exposed to rabies — was morally and illegally irresponsible.

5. The puppy that bit the shelter worker had been manhandled, and bit the shelter worker out of fear. A bite, by the way, that was totally defensive — that while it broke skin, was not a vicious attack.

6. County Manager Megan Garner was approached by rescue organizations wanting to help, and she ignored them.

7. Unbelievably, the shelter allowed rescue workers to be in physical contact with the dog — which was being held in isolation because of the chance of rabies. What? If that dog had been exposed to rabies, it is legally and morally irresponsible to allow humans who have not had the preemptive rabies vaccine to be in contact with a dog that might have rabies.

I ask that you attend the next county commission meeting (set for Aug 1, 6 p.m. at the Anson County Government Center) and show your support for reasoned and compassionate care for animals in your community.

I call on you to demand that all employees involved in the incident receive a formal reprimand, that all shelter employees receive training on the safe handling of animals and that Megan Garner be held accountable for her abuse of power.

Thank you,

Becky McBride

(Rescuer with 17 years of experience)

Gastonia, N.C.