Wolf hybrid bites boy, escapes pound
The breakout followed such perfect timing it almost seemed planned.
Dakota had been in quarantine ever since she left six puncture wounds on Gavin Chandler’s hand. Her rabies vaccination was expired, but Dakota had another strike against her – she was a wolf hybrid.
Vaccine manufacturers offer no guarantee that a rabies vaccination made for a domestic dog will work on a hybrid. For health safety reasons, hybrids are treated as wild animals and are often euthanized after they’ve bitten someone so they can be tested for rabies. Even a currently vaccinated wolf hybrid can be euthanized after being exposed to a rabid animal.
Last Tuesday Dakota escaped from her quarantine kennel at the El Dorado County Animal Control Shelter.
“It was a chain of events that happened at the same time,” said Robert Gerat, senior animal control officer. “The dog was on the back side of the kennel, behind a guillotine door. A member of the public opened the front of the cage looking for their dog and left it open. The dog broke through the guillotine door, and then walked through the door, left open by the public, to the office area. The dog just walked out the door.”
On Thursday, Gavin, 7, a second-grader at Bijou Elementary School, went through his first round of rabies vaccinations. He was facing his second round on Monday, until animal control officers finally located Dakota behind the Tahoe Paradise Golf Course on Monday morning.
On Monday afternoon, the Chandlers happiness about the dog’s retrieval was tinged with anger toward animal control.
“I realize accidents happen,” said Angel Chandler, Gavin’s mother. “But they never informed me or my husband that she escaped from the shelter.”
“They lost the dog, and weren’t real forthcoming about the information,” added Dennis Chandler, Gavin’s father. “What if it had bitten someone else. I’ve never had to see my son go through so much before. I had to watch him get shot after shot.”
After being returned to the shelter, the animal was immediately euthanized and transported to a laboratory in Placerville for testing.
“There is no antimortem (before death) test for rabies,” said veterinarian Dr. Kelly Doria. “They have to examine the animal’s brain for the presence of the virus.”
Around 4:30 p.m. Monday, the Chandlers received a call from the health department telling them the animal was negative.
“I have mixed emotions,” Angel Chandler said. “I feel bad that the animal had to be put down, but my son comes first.”
Rabies is transmittable to all mammals and almost always fatal.
Gerat said the shelter is taking steps to prevent a repeat of an escape like Dakota’s.
“We’re looking at the guillotine doors. We use those to clean the cages and we assume that the dogs are secure on the other side,” Gerat said. “We’re also installing automatic door closers, so when people are going in and out, the doors will shut.”
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