Man gets rabies shots after dog bite

January 20, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

An east Columbia man is undergoing a series of painful injections to prevent rabies because people who at one time had the unlicensed pit bull that bit him no longer know where the dog is.

Evelyn Handy is a defendant in a complaint filed on behalf of the county Animal Control Office and the county Health Department. She was threatened with contempt of court last week for failing to obey a court order to produce the dog that bit Owen Brown resident Kenneth Price Jr. on Dec. 23.

Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney denied the contempt motion.

Ms. Handy said in an interview that she does not own the dog and does not know where it is.

"I value human life more than a dog's life, and if I knew where it was, I would produce it," Ms. Handy said.

Mr. Price, meanwhile, began treatment Jan. 2 for prevention of rabies, a potentially fatal disease that attacks the central nervous system. "I couldn't wait any longer," he said. "I had to begin taking the shots. They are very painful."

The dog has not been found. If it had been found alive before Jan. 2, Mr. Price, 31, would not have had to undergo the series of shots. He could discontinue the shots if the dog were found alive now.

A dog that lives 10 days or more after biting a person poses no rabies threat to the victim, said Joanne H. Stock, acting director of the county Animal Control Office. A rabid dog will die within 10 days if rabies has entered the dog's saliva glands, she said. County practice in dealing with dog bites is to quarantine the dog for 10 days, usually in the owner's home.

The county says in its Dec. 30 complaint that an unlicensed pit bull named Curtis bit Mr. Price on Dec. 23. The dog broke away from the person who was walking the dog and bit Mr. Price on the arm and wrist as he was taking out the garbage, said F. Todd Taylor Jr., a senior attorney in the county law office.

Health Department personnel returned to the 7200 block of Sleepsoft Circle the following day to find the dog and talked to Mario Spinks, the presumed owner, the complaint says. Mr. Spinks told officials he had returned the dog to a relative who had given it to him. He identified the relative as Ms. Handy's son.

A dog warden went to the Handy home Dec. 29 to find the dog, but Ms. Handy and her son "refused to disclose its location, stating only that the dog was not there and the rabies vaccination was current," the county says in its complaint. Animal Control Office records indicate that the dog does not have a current rabies vaccination, the complaint says.

Ms. Handy said in an interview that the dog was part of a litter that had been given away seven months before the bite occurred. She said the dog was returned to her son without her knowledge Dec. 24. She said she attempted to call Animal Control to pick up the dog Dec. 26, but the office was closed.

She said she gave the dog to a friend in Baltimore on Dec. 27. She tried to get the dog back when the Animal Control Office called, but "it had gotten away and there was nothing I could do," she said.

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