Remains from a dog that attacked a Cincinnati Police Officer have tested negative for rabies, Cincinnati Animal CARE (CAC) confirmed to CityBeat on Oct. 5.
The results come a week after Officer Meggie Bower shot the dog twice on Vine Street after it bit three people, including the officer. But the results also follow days of tension between some CPD officers, the police union and the county shelter responsible for preparing the dog's body for testing.
On Oct. 4, Dan Hils, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), said CAC had not made an effort to get the dog’s body tested for rabies, saying the county-funded animal shelter was lying about the timeline of testing preparation to cover up a mistake — a claim CAC flatly denies, providing CityBeat with documentation to the contrary.
Hils told CityBeat he's happy with the results, but that they still came too late for his liking.
Read the original story below:
It all started on Sept. 28 when officer Meggie Bower responded to a call for a person bit by a loose dog near the Hartwell Recreation Center on Vine Street. According to police, the officer arrived to find a second person bitten by the dog. CPD said "several attempts" were made by the officer to isolate the dog before it charged at the officer and latched a bite onto her leg. Officer Bower then shot the dog twice, killing it. She was transported to UC Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.
Fast forward to Oct. 4 when Dan Hils, president of the Cincinnati Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), said CAC has not made an effort to get the dog’s body tested for rabies.
CityBeat spoke with Ray Anderson, CAC's community engagement manager, who said the press release came as a surprise considering the shelter has done everything by the book.
The timeline discrepancy"In a case like this, when a dog bites a human, or does anything that breaks skin, [...] the state of Ohio requires that dog be quarantined for ten days to be monitored for potential rabies," Anderson said. "Now, in cases like this when an animal dies, is euthanized or is killed after a bite has happened, it must be sent to a laboratory for testing."
Editor's note: The following medical description may disturb some readers.
"The dog has to be decapitated and the head has to get sent to a laboratory," Anderson said. "The dog was decapitated late Thursday night. There was a delay in our medical department Monday, and everything was scheduled yesterday. Pickup was first thing this morning."
Anderson said pickup from the biohazard delivery service would not have been possible on Thursday based on the time the dog’s body arrived at the shelter.
Hils told CityBeat he believes the shelter is lying about the rabies testing timeline to cover up a mistake.
"I believe they dropped the ball on this and now they're trying to cover up with medical emergencies and everything else. Somebody forgot to ship the dog," Hils told CityBeat. "To me, that's inexcusable when somebody's waiting for a rabies result."
Monday was in fact a busy day for the CAC vets, according to Anderson, who said they were triaging dogs who needed life-saving care. For instance, a Monday Facebook post from the shelter details an emergency response for a dog suffering internal bleeding after being hit by a car.
“I find it hard to believe there wasn’t time on Monday to send a specimen or head or whatever they want to call it,” he said.
Hils goes on to claim that, when CPD officers went to CAC on Oct. 3 to get answers, a CAC employee found the dog’s body in an "unlabeled box." Hils said the employee promised to get test results but "joked to the officer who was bitten about just dealing with the painful rabies injections."
This is another claim CAC flatly denies.
"The specimen was prepared,” Anderson said. “Any claims of an unmarked box are inaccurate. When these procedures take place in our organization, the body might remain here in an unmarked box or bag, but the head is at the laboratory."
The "joke," Hils said a CAC staffer made towards CPD officers, was a suggestion to continue getting the rabies vaccines.
"It was more in the way it was delivered," Hils said. "That you're just going to have to get over it and get the shots."
Anderson said it was not the intent of the CAC staffer to dismiss the officer's concerns.
"I think what our staff member was bringing, what sounded to me like calmness and reassurance, may have come across as not concerned enough," he said. "If the officer left that conversation feeling dismissed, I can definitively say that was not the intent of the conversation. And I'm very upset they came away from it with that interpretation."
What CAC told the officer directlyThat same day, Anderson said Officer Bower spoke with a high-ranking member of the medical team at CAC, who he said explained the timeline and process to the worried officer.
But Hils said that vet told Officer Bower that the shelter hasn’t started any of the processes for getting the dog tested for rabies.
"She was talking to a vet who said the dog had never been labeled, was still sitting there intact with a head yesterday,” Hils said.
Again, Anderson said this is untrue.
"I heard the conversation as it happened,” Anderson said. “I spoke to the person who spoke to the officer and can confirm they did not say the body was intact. They let them know the specimen was still here and scheduled for pick up.”
To further his point, Anderson forwarded CityBeat an email confirming the dog was decapitated on Thursday evening.
“That’s contrary to what I heard,” Hils said in a text.
The rabies vaccineAnderson also said Officer Bower self-disclosed to the vet that she had already started getting rabies vaccines, which Hils said the officer doesn’t want to continue doing if the dog tests negative.
In Hils’ press release, he emphasizes just how “painful” the rabies shots are, saying, “She was told to await rabies testing results [...] to determine if she would need to undergo the painful rabies treatment that requires multiple injections.”
Hils clarified to CityBeat that he should have said “continue” rather than “undergo,” since Bower had started the treatment she’d need to undergo should the dog test positive for rabies anyway.
In the past, rabies vaccines could be very painful. They were commonly administered in the stomach over the course of 17 injections. Now, rabies vaccines are relatively painless and are given in the arm, like any flu or tetanus vaccine, though the initial injection may take place near the wound.
Still, Hils said the officer doesn’t want any more vaccines.
"Her shot right there where her bite was was painful," he said. "And she's anticipating a total of five and she's already had three."
Given all the claims made about CAC in his press release, CityBeat asked Hils if he at any point made an attempt to contact the shelter and corroborate the information fed to him through Officer Bower.
"No. Not my place," Hils said. "Her bosses have done that."
CityBeat reached out to CPD for comment on the rabies testing process and Hils' claims, but did not hear back by press time.
But Anderson said CPD has been in communication with CAC about the testing timeline all along, just not Hils.
"I can say for sure that there's been contact between us and someone from CPD before Dan Hils got involved."