Owner of euthanized dog: Death was unneeded

A picture of a puppy  taken 6-7 weeks ago. The dog is being sought by Douglas County Animal Services in connection with last week's Carson City rabies case.

A picture of a puppy taken 6-7 weeks ago. The dog is being sought by Douglas County Animal Services in connection with last week's Carson City rabies case.

A Gardnerville Ranchos woman whose puppy was put down for rabies testing said she was intimidated into giving up the dog.

Rachel Lomeli said she adopted one of 10 puppies in a Gardnerville Ranchos litter. A puppy in Carson City tested positive for rabies and parvo last week.

She said Animal Disease and Food Safety Laboratory Supervisor Dr. Anette Rink of the Nevada Department of Agriculture told her Zoe didn’t have rabies.

Rink said she couldn’t confirm that Lomeli’s dog tested negative without receiving written permission from Lomeli, but she did say one of the two tests so far was negative.

Lomeli said she was told it would cost thousands of dollars to put her dog into quarantine for six months, which is the only other way of dealing with an animal that was in close proximity with a rabid dog.

She said she felt Douglas County Animal Control officers were covering up her dog’s negative test, and that they shouldn’t have killed the other half-dozen dogs for testing.

“Our dog wasn’t sick,” she said. She said she thinks the Carson City family took their dog outside where it was exposed to rabies and parvo.

Authorities are still looking for the last puppy in the litter of 10 that tested positive.

Rink said state law requires any animal in close proximity to the puppy that tested positive either be tested or quarantined.

“The law is very clear,” she said. “It is based on decades of research. Any animal has to be quarantined if it was in close contact with an animal known to have rabies.”

The boxer mix puppy was given away or sold by a private party in Carson Valley. Families who received nine of the puppies were notified of their options.

According to Douglas County Animal Control, two dogs are in quarantine for six months to determine whether they’re rabid. A positive test for rabies requires that an animal be euthanized so a sample can be removed from its brain, according to the CDC.

Rink said the original puppy was found to have a strain of big brown bat rabies that has jumped species barriers in Arizona and is now freely transmissible from skunks and foxes there.

She said people who die of rabies in the United States tend to get the disease from bats without knowing they’ve been exposed. A bat can bite people while they’re asleep.

“I’ve worked here for over 10 years, and we usually see our first rabies positive bats in May, June, July. Last year we had a rabies-positive bat in March in Carson City,” Rink said. “This year, we’ve already had a positive bat in Elko earlier this month.”

Rink acknowledged that putting the dogs down is difficult.

“Would you want to take a chance with this?” she asked. “It’s a tough thing to do. But we don’t have a choice from a regulatory standpoint; our action is based on Nevada Administrative Code.”

Rink said because it has been 23 years since a dog has tested positive for rabies in Nevada.

A Mowgli Movement page, named after one of the dogs that were put down, has been set up on Facebook to support research to find a live test for rabies in animals. To donate, go to www.gofundme.com/75wavg. The goal is to collect $5,400, which would allow the owner of the missing dog to quarantine his or her dog as well.


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