Changes in Pittsylvania County after dog decapitated by authorities

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In Pittsylvania County, Virginia, a disturbing and extremely graphic video of a dead German shepherd suspected of having rabies being decapitated by Animal Control circulated through social media on Thursday. The Pittsylvania County Administrator’s Office stated it was aware of the video which took place on March 23.

“Regarding rabies testing, we utilize the County Health Department to conduct the procedure necessary for sending specimen to Richmond for testing. It is required that the animal’s head be removed to test for rabies. The Health Department and our new Pet Center has appropriate and sanitary facilities for this procedure,” stated County Administrator David Smitherman according to Wset News.

The former county animal control officer, Laura Norton, said she wasn’t concerned with what the officers were doing, but where? Norton saw this happen five to ten times and grew concerned about the need to perform the procedure in a controlled and sanitary environment. The Health Department stated there was nothing illegal about the practice, however they have to be sure “there isn’t exposure to the officers and to the animals that live out of the county landfill.”


According to the Star Tribune, County Administrator David Smitherman released a statement about the changes made to protect the public:

“We were first made aware of both the video and the practice on March 23, 2017. Shortly thereafter the County implemented a policy that no animal would be decapitated by Animal Control Officers and all suspected rabies cases would be referred to the Health Department for investigation. The County has not decapitated any animals since March 23, 2017.”

Smitherman stated the video did not show what the county considered to be “best practices” after several complaints had been forwarded to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Animal and Food Industry Services’ Office of Animal Care and Emergency Response. Rabies in the Danville-Pittsylvania County area shows three animals tested positive out of 115 reported incidents involving 83 humans potentially exposed to the disease.


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(Photo and video by Nickie Norton)

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20 replies
  1. BA says:

    ok OMG DISGUSTING AND BEYOND INHUMANE…that’s how VA checks for rabies???? takes off an animals head jesus…. is that what they do to the people also????? what the hell is wrong with the human race …..this is vile and disgusting….why the hell are these animals out there , where is animal control – they wait to destroy an innocent dog..not getting them off the street because of horrid humans….real bang up job there doing…DISGUSTING AND INHUMANE……SICK SUB HUMANS

    • Holly says:

      The only way to test for rabies is to examine the brain tissue. No, this should not have been done outside and without protective gear. To answer your question, thanking off an animal’s head *is* how you test for rabies

  2. Cynthia Como says:

    WHY???? WHY is it necessary to post a video? I find this post so utterly disturbing and sickening! I’m very suspicious about this dog having rabies,I mean it’s pretty RARE for a dog to contract this illness! I also feel that any animal control officer willing and able to do this shouldn’t be working with animals! A vet that is medically trained or a health department employee I can understand, for they are doing it for scientific and public health reasons,but an animal control employee? Everything about this event is disturbing not to mention unsanitary and unsafe! And even tho I will not watch the video I find it very unnecessary to post this video if it shows the actual act of decapitation! SMH

  3. rieann says:

    what assholes, and it figures it is in VA… VA isn’t for lovers it is for sick not giving a shit human scum, shouldn’t this have been done in side by vets

  4. Nancy Raymond says:

    These are animal control officers???? Piss poor example of what a professional is that’s for sure. To treat a poor animal so callously is disgusting. These guys need a new job since they are unfit for dealing with any animal, dead or alive.

  5. Kristine Gray says:

    WTF!!! Yes the brain is required for testing rabies. ONE: What the article doesn’t state is why this dog is dead. Did they kill it because they thought it had rabies? If that’s the cause is that not illegal as when there’s a suspected case of rabies in an animal, they are to be placed in quarantine for 10-14 days for close observation of symptoms of rabies, NOT immediately kill the animal!!!???? TWO: The deceased animal is to be taken to a vet or health department where the proper steps, preventions & guidelines are followed & the brain is removed the proper way. You DONT TAKE A FUCKNG AXE & HACK AWAY @ THE DOGS HEAD IN PUBLIC!!! SOME FUCKING ANIMAL CONTROL EMPLOYEES ARE POWER TRIPPING ANIMAL ABUSES THEMSELVES & shouldn’t be workInfo in that field. I hope KARMA gets all of you sick & demented people 1000 times over!!! ????????????

  6. B. Brinck says:

    Respectless on each level!!! Would they do this to human’s as well? Each creature deserves respect, especially in death! My God…. so disgusting!….

  7. yvonne Polk says:

    I Know Cut off the Heads of the Fucking ASS HOLE who Cut Off the Dog Head and see what in their ASS{Heads}.DEAD You ASS HOLES DEAD.


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