County responds to concerns sparked by rabies incident

Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Apr 02, 2014 - 03:01 PM

In the wake of an incident concerning a rabid skunk reported in last week’s Gazette-Journal, Mathews County Administrator Mindy Moran and Sheriff Mark Barrick want to assure residents that the county is there to help them when they’re faced with such situations.

While it appeared from the article that the county didn’t respond to Mathews resident Joice Davis’s plea for help, said Moran, the fact is that the county did respond, but Davis herself took care of the problem before either animal control or a county deputy could arrive on the scene.

Barrick said that dispatch records at his office show that Davis called his office’s administrative line at 6:21 p.m. March 18 to report that there was a skunk in the pasture chasing her cows. She said she believed that it was rabid and she needed help.

The dispatcher said he would page animal control, after which he paged the two animal control officers via their cell phones, said Barrick.

At 6:36 p.m., just 15 minutes after her initial call, Davis called back, said Barrick, and told the dispatcher that her nephew had shot the skunk and it was dead. She asked what she should do with it, and the dispatcher suggested that, based on similar cases he had dealt with in the past, she should put the skunk in a plastic bag and save it for the health department to pick up.

Moran said she was sure that Davis felt as though much more time had passed than 15 minutes.

“That’s a perception anybody would have,” said Moran. “The adrenaline’s up and each second can seem much longer.”

Animal Control Officer Jean Roberts said that her co-worker, newly-appointed Officer Edgar Forrest, was en route to Davis’s house when he received word from dispatch that the skunk was already dead. At that point, she said, the animal was no longer a threat and Forrest did not continue to the scene.