Several days ago, Penny, a seven year old female Papillon, was being leash walked by her owner when out of no where, a 70lb Labrador Retriever appeared and within a few seconds had picked Penny up in his mouth and was shaking her.
Penny’s distraught owner tried to frantically pry her small dog from the Lab’s mouth, and was successful, but Penny received two puncture wounds and bruising to her lower back. During the rescue, the owner inadvertently was also bitten by the panicked Penny.
Penny was rushed to RYAH for treatment where her wounds were shaved, cleaned and sutured and she received antibiotics and pain medication. With her resting comfortably and her medical needs attended to, the staff then directed their attention to gathering information about the circumstances and the other dog in question.
Penny’s Rabies vaccination was up to date……but what about the Labrador that bit Penny? Was that dog currently vaccinated?? Was Penny bitten by an unvaccinated dog and what were the risks if she had been? Thankfully, we were able to get the contact information from the Labrador’s owner and contacted the veterinary hospital who confirmed Rabies vaccination dates. In most bite or dog fight situation we cannot prove Rabies vaccination dates usually due to the fact that a medical emergency is being dealt with and often proper contact information is not exchanged about the dogs involved. In the absence of information, a veterinarian has to assume that the other dog was unvaccinated and treat their patient accordingly.
When a HUMAN has suffered a dog bite there are further rules to follow. Since Penny’s owner was bitten by her own dog, who was current on her rabies vaccination, she does not have to worry about Rabies. However, if she had been bitten by the other dog and we had not been able to verify that the dog was up to date on its rabies vaccine it would have been a different story.
It is a veterinarian’s responsibility to advise any person who has been bitten by her own or any other dog to seek immediate medical care as a dog’s mouth is very dirty and bacteria can easily be transferred to the person causing infection. Antibiotic therapy would likely be recommended for the person too. The physician, in turn, is obligated to report any bites to a Public Health Officer. A bite involving a vaccinated dog……in Penny’s case….means an in-home quarantine for about ten days with limited people contact. A bite involving an unknown or an unvaccinated dog involves a much more involved process for both the dog (if it is ever identified) and the person who was bitten.
I am happy to report that Penny and her owner are recuperating nicely!