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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

This song popped into my head today. I had shelter duty today, but despite being in the shelter I had to go out to do a special task. This is not unusual really, even though the task was unusual.
It all started about a week ago.
I got a bite report. We get several bit reports daily. As I was reading the note I cringed. Apparently the dog was euthanized at the vet but before it was euthanized, the dog managed to bite the vet tech. The dog was euthanized and then the remains were given back to the owner by the vet hospital for the owner to bury.
This is a NO-NO!
There are strict regulations that have to be followed regarding animals that bite. Live animals must be quarantined for 10 days and dead animals are to be submitted for Rabies testing. But no, the dog was sent home, to be buried.
So I'm looking at this thinking, really? Dog had been buried two days. Then I thought, since the notes indicated that the dog had been current on rabies vaccinations, perhaps there was nothing that we would be able to do. After all would the specimen even be viable after being buried for 2 days? I had to check. So I called our Supervisor that handles most of the Rabies specimens collections. He said he was going to have to check with the County Health Veterinarian, who does the rabies testing.
Well he got back to me and told me that we would have to "collect" the rabies specimen. I was instructed to call the owner of the dog and advise them that we would need the dog's remains.
I was so hoping to avoid this. I felt really bad, here their dog had to be euthanized, it bit the tech and now we wanted the body after they buried it. Crappy. Just crappy.
Well I called the owners. They were not happy. Can you really blame them? The owner told me that their dog was 15 years old, and she was dying. They took her to the emergency vet because she was in pain and suffering and their usual vet was not open. They had always kept up on the dogs vaccinations, and everything the dog ever needed. They didn't understand why the vet who euthanized the dog hadn't told them about this. And they were also upset about how the vet hospital had handled the circumstances of the bit and euthanasia. Regardless I had to ask them about digging the dog up. The owner was upset that this had to be done. He said he needed to talk to his wife and would call me back. He wasn't upset with me, just the situation he felt he was being put in. I told him that I understood and that I had tried to get around it, but could not. He asked to call me back.
A short time later I got a call back from his wife. She was also very upset and told me so. She was calm but I could tell that this was very emotional for her. She said that they had no intention of digging their dog up, and that if we had to have the dog we would need to come do it. Or better yet since it was the vet who dropped the ball on this, they should be the ones to do it. I had to agree with her there, but this was not going to happen. I gave her the supervisor's number when she questioned if this really had to be done. I told her to call him and ask him if this was really necessary. I really wanted to help these people out and NOT dig up the dog.
Well, I got a call from the supervisor. He told me I was going to have to go dig up the dog. He spoke to the owners and let them know that it was necessary, but we would dig the dog up, and return the dog when it was all done.
Yep, that's right, ACO turns grave digger.
So I called and spoke with the owners again. I was apologetic and made arrangements to come right away. They were going to leave once I got there. They didn't want to be there when I removed the dog. But they wanted to be able to show me were she was.
I got there and met the husband. He was a nice older gentleman. He showed me where the grave was, on the back wooded section of their property. He moved the stones he had placed on the grave and warned me that they had dug a pretty deep hole. I told him that I would leave it open for the re-burial. He thanked me and left me to my task.
He wasn't kidding when he said it was deep. I finally found the dog after 45 minutes of digging about 3 1/2 feet down. I could help but think about those old B-movies that depicted some crazy person digging up graves. But a crazy maniacal laugh would probably have been inappropriate at this time. Thank Dog she wasn't a big dog, only about 40 lbs. They had her wrapped in a couple blankets. I put her in the garden cart the owner had provided me. It wasn't too bad. The worse part was the digging and the 2nd worse part was hauling the cart back up the hill, through the yard, out the gate and to my truck.
So that part was done.
I won't go into details, oh the heck with it, I will. You see Rabies Testing is done on the brain. And since the County Health lab can't have a bunch of bodies of dead animals waiting for testing, only the head is submitted. Get my point? Well since we promised to return the dog to the owners after testing, and they didn't want details, well we had to wait until after the testing was done, so the WHOLE dog could be re-buried.
I went and picked the specimen up from the county lab. Then re-united the specimen, with the rest of the dog. Too much detail? Sorry, welcome to my glamours world!
Yesterday I got a hold of the owners. They would leave the gate open for me, but they would be at work.
So today, after cleaning kennels all morning, I loaded up the dog and drove her back to the owners house. When I was leaving the shelter, the old AC/DC song "Dirty Deeds" was rumbling around in my head. Don't know why. Once at the owners house I took the little garden cart again, loaded the dog into it (the dog is in a big black plastic bag so I don't freak out the neighbors) and dragged it back through the gate, through the yard, down the hill and through the wooded area to it's final resting place.
It's been a little more than a week and a few rain storms since I was there last. So I had to do a little MORE digging to get the dirt knocked in by the weather and time. I was also trying not to fall in the hole. Once I had a sufficient hole, I placed the dog back in it. Dirt is a lot heavier when it has been sitting for awhile in a pile, kinda like cement. It took me 45 minutes again to re-bury the dog. But I think I did a decent job. I even covered it with the bark ground cover the owner had on the original grave and placed the stones back on top. It, for the most part, looked the way it had been. I dragged the little cart back through the woods, up the hill, through the yard and placed it back where I found it. I closed and secured the gate and got back in the truck.
Done. Dirty Deeds.


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  2. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read your story. What a great attitude you have!