NC statutes specify that an animal control or peace officer can, after reasonable effort has been made to apprehend animals who run uncontrolled in areas under rabies quarantine the animals, “destroy” those animals “and properly dispose of their bodies.” In Person County, they interpret this to mean that they can and should kill all the pets that they apprehend from such areas, even if there is no evidence the pet had any contact with a rabid animal.
When a case of rabies is confirmed in Person County, the area is declared under “rabies alert” for the next six months. Per the Person County animal ordinance, animals from rabies alert areas “will not be adoptable for a period of six (6) months, unless that animal has been vaccinated against rabies prior to custody at the shelter.”
So Person County pound policy is to kill them, even if they are too young to be vaccinated for rabies and have never been at-large or in a situation likely to expose them to rabies. Such as, for example, the 6- to 8-week-old puppies pictured below, who were surrendered by owners who happened to live in Flat River Township. That area is under a “rabies alert” until July 2013 because a rabid raccoon was found there in December 2012. The puppies pictured were all killed on Feb. 13, 2013.
Puppies need to be 12 to 16 weeks old before they can be vaccinated against rabies. Since the Person County pound refuses to release animals from “rabies alert” areas without proof of vaccination, the policy is an automatic death sentence for puppies. And it’s a death sentence for most of the other pets picked up from the quarantine area as well. In 2012, Person County pound employees killed 86 cats and 28 dogs because they came from a rabies alert area. Below are just a few of the dogs killed during the past year by Person County Animal Services as a result of the rabies alert area policy.
Does your county have a policy for pets that come in from a “rabies alert” or quarantine zone? If you know, please post it in a comment. If you don’t know, you can find out by filing a public records request. (You can read more about North Carolina’s open government laws here.)