A 5-year-old Longview boy who was bitten by a pitbull Aug. 26 is undergoing a series of rabies shots because the pitbull’s owner has refused tp disclose the dog’s location to authorities and falsified its proof-of-rabies vaccination certificate.
The pitbull’s owner, Kimberly Vasquez, 38, is believed by investigators to have hidden the dog with relatives since the day it attacked the boy while he was riding his bike outside a duplex at 223 Cypress St.
That evening, Vasquez told animal control officers her son had taken the dog and she didn’t know where he was. Friday, the Humane Society received a tip that the dog was at Vasquez’s mother’s house in Kelso, but by the time animal control officers arrived, the dog was gone, Humane Society animal control supervisor Mike Nicholson said Tuesday.
After receiving 40 stitches to close a bite wound in his calf, the boy was hospitalized again Friday because his leg had become infected, said the boy’s mother, who asked The Daily News not to identify her or her son because of a family situation.
The Humane Society has determined the rabies vaccination certificate Vasquez provided was a forgery. Normally, a dog that bites a person and lacks a current rabies vaccine would be quarantined for 10 days for observation. Because Vasquez won’t surrender the dog, the boy must undergo rabies prevention treatment.
Tuesday, the boy underwent skin-graft surgery at PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center and received the second in a series of four shots to prevent rabies. Each rabies shot in the series is a single injection rather than the multiple, painful injections in the abdomen with a large needle that were once standard treatment.
The boy is not allowed to walk and will remain in the hospital for another four or five days, his mother said.
“He’s in good spirits. He’s a real fighter,” said Nicholson, who brought the boy Hot Wheels cars and stickers at the hospital Tuesday.
The boy has health insurance, but his mother told The Daily News the carrier has informed the family it won’t cover the entire hospital bill.
Rabies, a deadly virus that infects the central nervous system, is rare but not unheardof in Washington. In 2010, 251 people in Washington received the rabies shots after potential exposure, and the last case of human rabies in the state was in 1997, according to the state Department of Health. While bats are the most common carriers of rabies in Washington, dogs are the source of 99 percent of rabies deaths throughout the world. Each year, an estimated 55,000 human rabies deaths occur in Asia and Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
The Humane Society has issued Vasquez a $771 ticket because her dog bit a human and remains at large without a current license. Vasquez also was served with a Humane Society notice declaring her dog dangerous, and her landlord served her with eviction papers last week because pitbulls are banned from the rental units. The Humane Society is recommending Vasquez be criminally charged with obstruction and forgery.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the dog should call the Humane Society at 577-0151.