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“My friend would have to start the rabies vaccine tomorrow if she can’t get this information”

by Prince Of Petworth June 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm 39 Comments

s st dog
17th and S St, NW

“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday around 7:30 p.m. my friend’s dog Cobalt and a Husky (we think its name is Rex but aren’t sure) got into a fight at the S Street dog park and in the scuffle the husky bit my friend’s right forearm, just above her wrist.

Unfortunately, the phone number provided by Rex’s owner (we believe her name is Dita) is a dead end. At the strong urging of my doctors, we are just trying to locate the dog’s owner to find out if Rex has his vaccines and records.

My friend would have to start the rabies vaccine tomorrow if she can’t get this information. If anyone knows Rex and his owner I’d greatly appreciate your help in tracking down this info so we can hopefully avoid a painful and expensive procedure.”

  • anon

    If the owner is such a jerk as to give a bad phone number, good luck getting any cooperation to get the information, even if you find her. Guess it is worth seeing if any friends can shame her into acting – but I wouldn’t expect it.

    • textdoc

      I was thinking the same thing. :(

      • Anon

        Or, you know, the number was misheard.
        It must be miserable to always assume the worst of people.

        • anon

          Not miserable, just realistic. People will do a lot to avoid being sued.

          I, on the other hand, think it must be unnecessarily painful to be unreasonably optimistic all the time – must be a life of constant disappointment when reality kicks in.

          • victoria

            A dog fight with or without a bite gets the adrenaline going. Ideally, one could take a deep breath, try to calm down, get the phone number and call it immediately to be sure it is right.

            But I would also hope that other dog owners in the park might also offer to help by getting names and numbers for both parties.

        • Erin

          Unfortunately, it is very common when someone’s dog attacks another dog (or person) for the attacking dog’s owner to either give false information or refuse to give any at all. I’ve been a vet tech for years (and suffered through my dog being attacked in our fenced front yard), and have experienced it from all sides very frequently. I was crying and bleeding because I was also bitten in the scuffle, but I continued to assure this “owner” that all I wanted to know was if his dog was up to date on its rabies vaccine. I couldn’t even get an answer. He just walked away.

          So yes, it could have been accidental, but it also could have been very purposeful.

  • Ward One Resident

    As someone who has been bitten by a stray dog and had to go through the protocol, here’s some advice: 1) You have a few days before you need to get the shots. Obviously you want to get them as soon as possible, but they don’t need to be done immediately (I think 3-4 days lapsed before I got mine); 2) Hopefully your friend has insurance because while it won’t cover the whole thing, it will cover some of it; 3) The only place in DC you can get the vaccine is at the ER so my advice is go to Sibley first thing in the morning. There is little to no waiting. It’s four visits and while the first visit is not fun, subsequent visits are just simple shots. Gone are the days of shots in the stomach. Good luck. Hopefully you’re able to track the owner down today or tomorrow.

  • spinfan

    Several years ago my husband was running in Rock Creek when a dog who was off her leash chased him down and bit his ankle as he ran by. He heard the owner screaming the dog’s name but he kept running. It was only when he got home that he realized he was bleeding and the bite punctured the skin. Since he didn’t have the name of the owner or her phone number, we called vets in the area with a description of the dog and its name. We were able to track down the owner and confirmed the dog was up to date on its shots. Good luck – figured it wouldn’t hurt to mention the story since I was worried he was going to have to go through rabies shots as well!

    • Brookland mom

      That’s probably not a bad idea. You can try calling citypaws since that is the closest vet to that park.

  • wdc

    Is this something you can circulate to the vet clinics? There can’t be more than a dozen that people near that dog park use. If you have a good description of the dog and the owner, maybe someone will recognize them.
    There isn’t HIPAA for dogs, is there?

  • Marty

    Good news: Your friend was almost certainly NOT exposed to a rabid dog.
    Bad news: Rabies is almost always fatal (only a few have ever survived.) Since the case fatality rate is so high, without a confirmed vaccinated and healthy dog, you need the shots.
    Good news: they aren’t any more painful than any other vaccination. (The RIG, given “soon” after exposure may be more painful just because there is a lot of volume.) Otherwise, the shots are just normal vaccinations given IM / in deltoid usually.
    Bad news: I have no idea, but they probably are expensive. I wonder if DC DOH provides them free? (to limit the number of rabid people, which would seem like a bad thing.)

    • Ward One Resident

      Nope…only place to get the shots if you’ve been bitten in the District is at an emergency room. That’s the bigger pain than the shots.

    • Anon

      There was a Radiolab episode on rabies a few years ago, where a girl was able to survive it. If I’m remembering correctly the doctors induced a coma which allowed her body to fight it off. Interesting stuff!

    • Amy

      From when I looked into it a couple years ago for international travel, it was $250 a shot. Each. You need 2-3 shots. That shit is expensive.

  • D-C-0-9

    I was bitten a couple of years ago by a dog on a leash who lunged at me when I passed by…didn’t realize I was bleeding until about 30 seconds later, and by that time, the owner and dog had taken off. Ditto on everything that’s been said here — odds are greatly in your favor that you’re fine, but those same odds mean you’ll die if you’re not, so you should get the shots. Only available in ERs — nowhere else in the city, as far as I know. Not too painful, though one of those first shots (the one with human rabies Immunoglobulin) hurts like hell because it’s a huge amount of IG that is ice cold when it gets injected.

    The hospital ER billed my insurance a total of $60,000+ for all of the shots…I paid about $550.

    • wdc

      Holy shit, that’s a lot of money! The hospital billed about half that for my all-the-interventions c-section! That’s a surgical team of at least six people, two hours in the OR, six nights in the hospital, etc and so forth.
      I wonder what’s behind that pricetag. Hard to produce? Patent held by Martin Shrekli, or whatever that clown’s name is?

      • Ward One Resident

        Are you sure you don’t mean $6,000? That’s about how much all mine cost in 2014. Based on my terrible insurance I was responsible for about $1500.

      • textdoc

        I’d imagine part of it is out-of-control U.S. hospital pricing in general (the NYT has had several good articles on this topic), but even still, that seems like a lot.
        Maybe the vaccines are expensive to produce because they’re used so infrequently?

      • AnonV2

        Yes, if it’s anything like many snake antivenins these days. They have a relatively short shelf life, are used infrequently and consequently are not produced in anywhere close to volumes that would benefit from economies of scale. It’s one of those things that hospitals always need to have on hand in the event it is needed to save a life but are basically boutique pharmaceuticals, and the corresponding cost per dose is astronomical.

        • navyard

          I would say $6K is closer to the figure too. I priced it out before I worked on a monkey ranch and the shots were roughly $1K each. Expensive due to the reasons above + refrigeration required.
          If the ER really billed $60K, they should be exposed for gross overbilling, regardless of what the negotiated rate is.

          • textdoc

            Monkey ranch??

          • K

            You left out some important details. Monkey ranch?

          • textdoc

            There is a story to be told here!

  • Mamasan

    You may want to report the bite to Animal Control – it’s possible that they have records if this dog has bitten anyone previously. Also, your friend should get a tetanus booster if needed, as well.

    I’m really sorry this happened.

    • Erin

      +1000 this needs to be reported to Animal Control. It may never result in finding this other dog, but if it does, then your friend will not have to go through the post exposure vaccines.

      • FridayGirl


  • This Place

    Precisely why I stopped going to this dog park. It has gotten too crowded with way too many irresponsible owners.

    • AsAMother

      Yeah, this dog park is a nuthouse. During peak hours, there can be as many as 30 dogs in that park, not to mention all the owners standing around as well. I was there one time, and this woman had an unneutered and untrained pit bull that was acting aggressively, and she was actively encouraging his poor behavior. Of course, it attacked another dog as the dog and its elderly owner were coming in through the gate. The owner was freaking out, we all rushed in there to pull the pit off of the other dog, and I began yelling at the woman that she shouldn’t bring the dog back until it has been trained. Her excuse? “Oh, he’s fine. He’s just playing. I don’t understand what the problem is. Dogs are always attacking him, it’s never his fault. I’ve been kicked out of every dog park in the city because of the fights, and I don’t know how else he is going to get exercise.” I told her, “You know, you could take him for a walk.” And she replied, “I don’t have time for that.” And when I suggested she get him neutered, she responded dismissively, “Well, I’m not going to do that because I want to breed him.” I was like, “Oh, great. Another amateur pit bull breeder in a city full of unwanted pit bulls.”

      I thankfully never saw her again.

      • textdoc

        Ugh — that would make my blood boil.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    If the dog is registered in DC, the DC DOH should have rabies vaccination records. I don’t know if they will give out that info though.

  • flieswithhoney

    You could also check with the S Street Dog Park Facebook page. Hope everything turns out ok.

  • Anony

    Sorry this happened. My 6 month old puppy was attacked by a husky at Walter Pierce dog park in AdMo 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately I was in such panic and shock (and crying, the dog bit my dog twice, and he was twice his size, I panicked because no one could stop the attack, so had the husky wanted, he could’ve really hurt or even killed my dog) that I didn’t bother sticking around to try to get the dog’s name. But I’m wondering if it could possibly be the same husky. People who we always see at the park told us later (not at the park, we haven’t been back since) that they walked up to the owner and told him next time they’re caling the police. Apparently everyone knows that particular husky and he attacks. Hope you’re able to track the info down.

    • Friend of Cobalt

      I wonder if it is the same dog, huh. Thanks so much for the positive vibes, and I hope your puppy was ok. The S Street park is certainly in the neighborhood.

      And, we’ve also posted to the S Street park facebook group, so they’re also keeping an eye out.

  • Karen

    My entire family had to be vaccinated because of a bat infestation in our attic. I think the 5 shots were $250 each, we paid about 10% of that after insurance, and we got them at our kids’ pediatrician office (they had to order them but that did not seem to be a problem). I do not think you have to go to the ER – I would ask your internist.

    • textdoc

      Isn’t that a preventive vaccination, though? (Rather than after-the-fact treatment for a possible rabies exposure?)

  • mdtodc

    Did you hear the owner say the dogs name? That can help find the dog.

    • FridayGirl

      Re-read the post. From the first sentence: “… a Husky (we think its name is Rex but aren’t sure)…”

  • Woof

    I am so so sorry to hear that happened to you – dog fights are dangerous for all involved and I wish you good luck in piecing this together to get back to healthy.

    As someone with a dog who has been attacked by other dogs more than once, including severely, it is so difficult to keep your composure when a person or your pet, has been bit. The last time it happened I was so upset but luckily one of my neighbors saw what happened and dropped what they were doing to help me communicate with the owner of the dog that attacked, who was of course being evasive and trying to leave the area (my building). Without their help I am sure I would have been in a similar situation as you.

    This is my plug to folks reading this thread that if you see this happen to another person/dog, jump in and help communicate for that person. They may or may not get a chance to thank you in real time, but that kind of help will be forever appreciated. I am sure the adrenaline of the person with the dog that attacked will also be through the roof and they will be instinctively defensive, but a calm person asking as many right questions as possible at least will help the victim feel like they tried to do everything they could have in the moment to get the information they need. Also why I stopped walking my dog without my phone – when it happened to me I was able to call the number the person gave me and watch it ring, which helped me communicate with them even after they booked it away from the building.


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