Dog owner laments lapse in vaccination

Local News

WILMINGTON ISLAND, Ga. (WSAV) – A common oversight is leading to separation anxiety and added expense for one dog owner in Chatham County and pet owners should pay attention.  

Will Martin, a former WSAV employee, is sharing a cautionary story as he waits to be reunited with his dog, Pepper.  

Animal control officers picked up his four-year-old pit lab mix a week ago. “My dog has been accused of biting somebody,” Martin said. “I can prove that she didn’t bite anybody. So animal control took her into quarantine.”

Pepper is accused of biting a child, Martin says, stuck their hand a fence in his back yard. Martin shared his security system’s surveillance video, active at the time of the reported bite, sometime after 1 p.m. May 22.  

Pepper and her playmate do not appear to be interacting with anyone or anything near the fence, a six-foot panel style structure.  

When animal control officers arrived to speak with Martin, he says they took Pepper, saying the dog’s rabies shots are not up-to-date.

“Take your dog and get that shot updated and have those records on hand because it doesn’t take for your dog to do anything,” Martin warned. “It just takes for someone to accuse your dog of doing something and then it’s taken out of your hand.”

Pepper was taken to the Chatham County Animal Shelter & Adoption Center for quarantine. Martin says he was told it would last ten days but says he was just informed it’s going to be even longer than that.

“I haven’t seen her in over a week and now they’re saying, ‘Ok, there’s another incident, we’re gonna keep your dog longer,'” Martin said. “Longer. I’m paying for every day that she’s in there.”

Chatham County Animal Services policy says pets accused of biting have to be confined 10 days to observe for signs of rabies. Vaccinated pets can be confined at home, but unvaccinated pets have to be held in a veterinarian’s office or at the animal shelter, at the owner’s expense.

Martin says the emotional costs are even higher.

“She’s been with me every day of her life since she was six weeks old.  She’s never been without me. There’s nothing you can do about it,” Martin said. “So make sure you keep those shot records up-to-date. It’s very important. I’ve learned a valuable lesson in that regard.”

He says now, adding his pet’s vaccination is at the top of his priority list.

Missing a rabies shot is not cheap for pet owners in Chatham County. It begins with a $125 fee for observation over 10 full days at the shelter. Plus there are additional fines and court costs.  

Martin says he expects to pay nearly $500 by the time he makes his court appearance and retrieves Pepper.

The rabies shot is $10 annually and the tag is another $5 dollars. In Chatham County, the law requires current rabies shots and tags for dogs and cats.

For more information and resources on animal bites, visit Chatham County Animal Services’ website here.

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