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 Laboratory Supervisor Dr. Anette Rink of the Nevada Department of Agriculture told her puppy, Zoe, was negative for rabies.
Rink said she couldn’t confirm that Lomeli’s dog tested negative without written permission from Lomeli, but 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 that she felt 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 believes the Carson City family took their dog outside where it was exposed to rabies and parvo.
After learning her dog was negative, Lomeli said she found out that the cost to maintain a dog for six months is $1,800. Two dogs are being quarantined in Carson City, and efforts are under way to raise money to support the effort.
Authorities are still looking for the last puppy in the litter. Carson City Health & Human Services is asking anyone with information about the missing puppy to call (775) 887-2190.
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. For the puppies, who were littermates, and one of them turns up being definitely infected, we have to go back to every puppy.”
According to information released Thursday by Carson City Health & Human Services, the boxer-mix puppy, born in November, was given away or sold by a private party living in Carson Valley.
Families who’d received the puppies were notified of their options.
According to Douglas County Animal Control, two dogs are in quarantine for six months to determine if they’re rabid. To be tested an animal has to be euthanized so a brain tissue sample can be taken, according to the Centers of Disease Control.
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 someone while they’re asleep, and it’s possible the victim wouldn’t realize it until too late.
“This is something we are going to watch very closely,” she said. “We’ve had rabies here for a very long time, but with climate change and what we’re observing on a small scale, rabies seems to be changing. 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. 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, and the fact that dog was a puppy, prompted the state to consult with the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.
Samples from the remaining animals were sent to the CDC, for testing. Results have come back for only two of the puppies, one of which was negative, according to Carson health services.
Lomeli said the incident prompted supporters to plan a candlelight vigil on the capital steps in Carson City. A Mowgli Movement page, named after one of the dogs that was put down, has been set up on Facebook to support research to find a live test for rabies in animals.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/75wavg. They’ve raised $210 so far. The goal of the fundraiser is to collect $5,400, which would allow the owner of the missing dog to also quarantine their dog as well.