Judge gavelA Florida couple is suing their neighbour in an attempt to get the neighbour’s dog euthanized for rabies testing. The dog attacked the couple’s beagle, and the wife was bitten while intervening (as was her sister). Because there was a bite, it’s important to consider the potential for rabies exposure and take appropriate actions. But is this the right thing to do?

A few import facts to consider first:

  • Rabies is very rare in dogs in the US. However, it does occur and it’s bad, so it can’t be overlooked.
  • There are two ways to determine if a dog that bit someone was able to transmit rabies. One is to euthanize it and test the brain. The other is to monitor it for 10 days. If it’s still alive and healthy at that point, it could not have transmitted rabies at the time of the bite. That’s the most common approach.

Kantor’s husband, neurologist Dr. Daniel Kantor, said he had to resort to the suit because his wife can’t undergo preventive rabies treatments. He said she has an auto-immune system disorder that would make the treatments a risk to her health.

  • A realistic concern but one that has no relevance here. The dog doesn’t need to be euthanized to determine whether or not treatment is needed. The fact that one of the plaintiffs is a neurologist is an interesting twist. It’s sad that he doesn’t understand some basic aspects of this neurological disease.

Broward animal control officials quarantined Zina, who is owned by Joan and Irwin Mandel, and say the dog posed no rabies risk when it attacked, but Crystal Kantor doesn’t trust that.

  • So we should euthanize dogs when people just don’t like the answer they get, especially when it’s an answer supported by numerous guidelines and scientific fact?

Suing makes no sense. For one thing, it’s an unnecessarily confrontational approach to solving a simple problem (or, it’s a way to escalate a problem when someone doesn’t like the answer they’ve gotten). It’s too bad it has to come to something that wastes a lot of time and money.

Two, by the time this gets sorted out in court, I assume the 10 day quarantine period will have passed. Any decision would be completely irrelevant at that point.

I understand the sensitivity that comes with rabies exposure. I’ve been there myself. However, it’s important that facts and reason win out. This dog needs a 10-day quarantine, and that’s it, from a rabies standpoint. Figuring out why it bit and how to prevent if from happening again is an important issue but something that’s not related to the rabies lawsuit.

More information about rabies and about bites can be found on the Worms & Germs Resources – Pets page.