An Unofficial Bent Tree Public Service Announcement

This is a partial recount of what a concerned Bent Tree property owner shared at yesterday’s Open Forum (before the Board Work Session). I hope I get it right…

Mid-morning on April 4th, a Bent Tree couple let their dogs into their fenced backyard. A raccoon jumped the fence and started running around biting rocks, outdoor furniture, etc. Based on the raccoon’s erratic, aggressive behavior, there is the distinct possibility that the animal was rabid. The gentleman homeowner called Public Safety and a PS officer went to the home; the raccoon continued to display aggressive behavior.  The officer did not have a gun, but he gave permission for the homeowner to shoot the raccoon. In fact, after the homeowner shot the raccoon, the officer requested that the homeowner shoot it again. The homeowner complied. The homeowner helped the Public Safety officer properly bag the dead animal and stressed the importance of properly managing the carcass, which he believed Public Safety would send for testing. Jumping a bit ahead in the story, it turns out the animal was not sent for testing; it was buried by Public Safety.  According to the Public Safety Director, that is standard practice if a suspected rabid animal did not bite anyone/any animal.

Because there was no testing, there is no definitive way to know that the animal was rabid. Without the definitive answer, the Health Department could not send out a press release to alert those in the area. The Health Department told the homeowner it would be prudent to have the community send out a local alert. The homeowner discussed this with the General Manager, but the General Manager seemed uninterested.  No alert was issued to the community.  During yesterday morning’s Open Forum, the homeowner recommended that the Board of Directors implement a Standard Operating Procedure for Public Safety to follow in the even of rabies exposure / animal handling. He wrote and submitted to the Board a suggested SOP.

BTCI spent half a year developing a pet policy to protect animals and people.  BTCI could have spent a couple of minutes to send out a community alert.  Click here for a previous post about what happened when a Big Canoe resident was attacked by a rabid raccoon while hiking a few years ago. Click here for an article on a recent rabid raccoon case in Ellijay.