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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