Friday, March 14, 2008

Pet Monkey Quarantined After Biting Child

An unusual case has left the New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter hunting for answers -- and they've contacted WAVE 3 for help. Shelter officials say they got a call from the Floyd County Health Department after a child visited a home and was bitten by the owner's pet Capuchin monkey. It's the first case of it's kind for both departments, and finding answers is taking time. WAVE 3's Shayla Reaves investigates.

It's not much bigger than a pet cat, but one small monkey is in the middle of a major problem at the New Albany- Floyd County Animal Shelter.

"We've been contacted by the health department in Floyd County that there has been a child injured by a Capuchin monkey," New Albany-Floyd County Animal Shelter Director David Hall told WAVE 3.

The Capuchin monkey is legal to have as a pet in Indiana. For the shelter, it's not about whether or not to allow exotic animals as pets, but about getting access to information about their health with limited costs to taxpayers.

"Here's New Albany is in a budget crunch and we've spent a total of 4 to 6 hours on this case yesterday and we're spending time again today on the case," Hall said.

Still, there are no answers. For now, the monkey is quarantined at the owner's home while the health department investigates. Because the department usually deals with humans, it turned to the animal shelter for help. Finding out if the monkey's shots are up to date is proving to be very difficult, because there's nothing in the law specific to monkeys.

"Veterinarians have told us it's not the rabies I'd be worried about," said Hall. "It's the other diseases that these animals may be carrying that I'd be worried about."

Louisville Zoo Curator Steve Wing says "a lot of the tests and vaccinations that have been developed for dogs and cats -- we don't have that research on exotic animals."

The Louisville Zoo has no Capuchin monkeys, and it's illegal in Kentucky to have monkeys as pets.

Wing says it's "like having a 2-year-old in your house at all times, and they're very unpredictable. They react to different situations differently than people do so you don't ever know exactly what they're ever going to do."

Right now, Indiana requires permits for some wild animals, but there are no statewide restrictions for monkeys. The Humane Society is supporting legislation to change that and stop people from getting monkeys as pets in the future.

Story here.

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