A Crawford County owner says he was forced to behead his own dog after a sheriff's deputy shot it, believing it was rabid.
We wondered whether this was really the suggested way to handle rabid animals. So, we set out to verify it.
A lot of times, our animals feel more like family members than pets and it’s true that sometimes they might act out.
Typically, it's as harmless as knocking over a vase or chewing up a rug.
Other times, though, it can be much more serious. Especially when rabies might be involved.
"I mean this is serious stuff. If you get rabies, it can definitely be a death sentence," said veterinarian Dr. Vernard Hodges.
Since a human rabies infection can be so serious, the North Central Health District recommends protocols on how to deal with suspected rabid animals.
If authorities suspect that a live animal has rabies, the state agency says it should be placed in a 10-day quarantine to determine whether it really is rabid.
But if the animal is already dead, Hodges says the testing process is very different.
"You have to use the brain of the animal. Unfortunately, [you] take the brain and send it off to a laboratory,” said Hodges.
So we can verify: rabies tests on dead animals typically require taking the animal's severed head to a lab.
However, according to the North Central Health District (NCHD), there's a right way to collect it.
"No one should go out and take the head of an animal except as a last resort,” said NCHD interim director Rick Craft.
Hodges agrees. He says severing the head can expose a person to the rabies infection.
"I don't even let my staff touch it. So anybody in the public or anybody exposed…you just don't want them exposed because you die from this,” said Hodges.
So if a Crawford County officer forced the dog owner to sever his own dog's head, that would not be the suggested way to handle the situation.
On Tuesday night, the investigator in this case, James Hollis, was placed on administrative leave while the investigation continues.
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