Tests show euthanized coyote pup didn't have rabies - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Tests show euthanized coyote pup didn't have rabies

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A baby coyote euthanized after it was brought into a Fort Worth vet clinic due to fears it had rabies did not have the disease, tests showed.

FOX 4 confirmed Friday afternoon that Fort Worth Animal Control tests on the coyote for rabies came back negative.

Cheyenne Harboe told FOX 4 earlier this week she just wanted to do a good thing for what she thought was a dog in need.

"I thought it was a puppy at first," said Harboe. "Then I got closer, and he was really skinny, and I thought he was probably sick."

Harboe said when she saw the baby animal on her way into work, right behind a Posados Café in north Fort Worth, she wanted to help. With the animal wrapped in a blanket, Harboe named him Taco and took him to Summerfields Animal Hospital.

There, it was confirmed that Taco was, in fact, a coyote.

Dr. Karen Metzler, who works at Summerfields, said at the time she saw several signs of rabies in the little coyote pup.

State law said coyotes are a high risk animal for rabies, so the animal had to be euthanized and tested for the disease.

Harboe says if she had to do it all again, she would have never picked up the baby coyote, and instead, would have let animal control handle it.

"I felt guilty, honestly," said Harboe. "Like I wish I'd just probably should have just left him there, but I thought I was doing the right thing."

Senior animal control officer Chuck Coots says that's what most people tend to want to do -- help the animal or take it to a vet.

But coyotes, he points out, almost always have rabies.

"It's carried through the oral and the saliva, so if it does bite you, you could possibly get rabies," said Coots.

State law mandates coyotes be put down because they're among the top five high-risk animals for rabies.

"Their recommendation is euthanasia and submitting a specimen for testing," said Coots.

Pets like dogs, cats and ferrets can be quarantined, but not wild animals -- state law is clear.

Testing for rabies is done on brain tissue.

"The testing for rabies is actually done on the brain stem of the animal, so you can't do that with the animal being alive," said Coots. "They recommend euthanizing it, and it actually has to be shipped off to Austin to testing facilities."

Harboe took a beating on Facebook for bringing in the coyote. Some blamed her for the coyote's demise; others praised her for her compassion.

Her takeaway was that there's no win-win.

"I tried my hardest, honestly," she said. "I had the best intentions when I picked him up. It just didn't go my way."

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