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Out-of-Date Rabies Vaccine Lands Dog in the Clink

Molly was minding her own business when the raccoon attacked her. The poor dog didn't see it coming. The sweet nine-year-old Yorkshire Terrier stepped out...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jul 25th 2009


Molly was minding her own business when the raccoon attacked her. The poor dog didn’t see it coming.

The sweet nine-year-old Yorkshire Terrier stepped out of her owner’s back door for her bedtime bathroom break. She rounded the corner. The owner heard a commotion, and the bloodied dog scampered back to the safety of the home. If her tail had been more than a stub, it certainly would have been between her legs. The incident lasted just a few seconds.

When I treated Molly I found several bite wounds on her face and muzzle. She also had three or four puncture wounds on her rear end. From her injuries, it appeared that she had run headlong into the raccoon. The raccoon savaged her face. The dog turned to run away, and was tagged a few times on her rump during the escape.

Fortunately, the injuries were not serious. But legal matters threw an additional wrench into the gears of the evening. After animal attacks I am required to determine the victim’s rabies vaccination status. I wish the owner had lied.

Molly lived the life of a homebody. She lived mostly indoors. The owner had decided to forego rabies vaccination for several years. Her vaccines were overdue.

Molly’s chances of contracting rabies during the encounter were basically nil. But San Mateo County law still dictates that pets with overdue rabies vaccines must be quarantined for six months after wild animal encounters. Five and one half months of the quarantine can take place at home. But the first 14 days must take place at the San Mateo animal shelter.

I’ve never been to that shelter. But I can’t imagine Molly is happy there. I feel bad for her–none of this was her fault.

Photo: “Bastique“.