The 10-day quarantine period is designed to monitor the animal for signs of the disease, although Mark-Carew said that isn't always conclusive. In order to conclusively test for rabies, the DHHR must test a portion of an animal's brain stem, which requires it be euthanized.
"If the animal were to become ill, it would be early after the exposure, so 10 days is what is recommended by different agencies," she said. "Depending on the outcome, the animal can be put to sleep or released back to its owner."
Only three animals, all bats, have tested positive for rabies in Putnam County since 2000. Mark-Carew said the policy may be more costly for pet owners, but it is likely to reduce the risk of exposing people to a rabid or aggressive animal.
"I think it depends on what the county wants to do. To have a sanitarian come and check on the animal to make sure it is quarantined may seem an inefficient process," Mark-Carew said. "The quarantine process varies some across counties, and if Putnam believes that's their best bet, it's not a bad method -- it is more stringent, and a little more costly for people, but it is a safe way to do it."
In 2010, Hurricane resident Terry Humphrey's 9-year-old cat "Kitty Tom" was accidentally killed while under quarantine at the shelter. Jon Davis, Putnam County's chief humane officer, said that owned animals with up-to-date rabies vaccinations are not in danger of euthanasia at the Putnam shelter.
"We wouldn't put anything down unless we had an order from the health department saying they wanted it put down," Davis said. "We're basically the middle man in that situation; the health department makes all of the decisions as far as that goes. All we do is hold the animals unless we are ordered otherwise."
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.