BRATTLEBORO -- The Brattleboro Police Department is on the lookout for a dog that bit a 13-year-old girl while she was waiting for a school bus on Central Street on Nov. 7.
According to the girl's mother, Carrie Bright Storm, the dog bit the girl on the finger, and though the bite wasn't severe, it did break the skin.
"The dog was sitting down and she had permission to approach and pet it, and then the dog bit her," said Storm.
The dog is described as a large black Rottweiler-type dog and was being walked on a leash by a man approximately 50 years old with greyish longer hair wearing an orange jacket.
"There's no excuse for leaving a kid bleeding and crying and walking away, which is what happened," said Storm. Nonetheless, she said "I'm not baying for blood. I just need to know the dog's vaccination status."
After her daughter was bitten, Storm brought her to a local clinic where she was treated. She was told that they had five days to find the dog to make sure it was up to date on its rabies vaccines. If not, or if the dog was not found, Storm's daughter might have to receive a post-exposure vaccination.
But on Tuesday, after consultation with the clinic and Vermont's state veterinarian, Storm said they had decided not to go ahead with the shots.
"The clinic said it was up to us and it wasn't a massive bite and it was cleaned quickly," she said.
Nonetheless, said Storm, she would like to track down the dog and its owner, just to make sure the dog was all up to date on its vaccinations.
Dr. Bob Johnson, the state public health veterinarian with the Department of Health, said there is no real protocol on whether a person bit by a dog should get post-exposure treatment, but in the last three decades or so, there hasn't been a single case in the United States of a dog transmitting rabies to a human.
He said he "talked at length" with Storm's doctor about the possibility her daughter was exposed to rabies.
"It's extremely unlikely," said Johnson.
Annually, one to two people contract rabies from a wild animal bite, and more than likely that's from a bat, he said. Another 30,000 people or so receive post-exposure treatment, which consists of four shots, similar to a flu shot, over a two-week period and an injection of immune globulin. The cost of those shots is between $3,000 and $5,000, said Johnson, but usually insurance covers the cost.
Before modern vaccines, treatment for post-exposure was truly a horror story, he said, with multiple injections in the belly.
Johnson also said Brattleboro and Windham County have a pair of experts when it comes to rabies -- Brattleboro Animal Control Officer Cathy Barrows and Kelly Price, a Vermont Fish and Game warden.
For more information on rabies, visit healthvermont.gov/prevent/rabies/rabies.aspx.
If you have immediate concerns about a rabid animal, call the Rabies Hotline at 800-472-2437.
Bob Audette can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 802-254-2311, ext. 160. Follow Bob on Twitter @audette.reformer.