EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 4, 2013

Dog that bit girl isn't up to date on shots

By John Toole

---- — LONDONDERRY — Oliver, the dog who bit a Londonderry first-grader, is not up to date on his shots, Londonderry police said yesterday.

A veterinarian at a Manchester pet shop who treated the dog told police Oliver’s rabies vaccination isn’t current, police Lt. Kevin Cavallaro said.

“If that is accurate, the little girl might require further medical treatment to rule out rabies,” Cavallaro said.

Oliver bit Sarah Stewart, 6, of Winterwood Drive after she tripped and fell on him while playing Easter Sunday.

Oliver, part pit bull and Labrador retriever, bit Sarah on the forehead.

Oliver’s fate could be complicated by his vaccination status, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he would be put down.

State Department of Agriculture program assistant Cindy Heisler said a veterinarian usually checks a dog after a 10-day quarantine for signs of rabies.

“The only time they can put a dog down is if the owner asks or the court orders it,” Heisler said.

A judge would have to find in court that the dog is a menace, she said.

Oliver, quarantined since Sunday, has not exhibited signs of rabies.

“The dog has shown no sign of erratic behavior,” Cavallaro said.

Treatment for possible rabies exposure would depend on the individual circumstances, according to Chris Adamski, chief of the state’s Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.

A decision would be made by the individual and their family in consultation with a healthcare provider, she said.

“If there was a previous vaccination, but it was not up to date, there may be some protection there,” Adamski said.

Typical treatment when a doctor determines that is in the best interest of a patient is a series of four shots over a couple of weeks to protect against rabies.

A patient also may be vaccinated with immune globulin, which stimulates the immune system.

But, again, it would depend on all of the facts and circumstances.

“It really is a situational dependent thing,” Adamski said.

The police department’s animal control officer is still reviewing the matter. Cavallaro has said charges are unlikely against Oliver’s owners, Lisa and John Palmieri, because Oliver was on a leash, on his own front porch, when Sarah fell on him.

Sarah is expected to see a plastic surgeon about her wounds.

Lisa Palmieri has said she won’t bring Oliver home to the neighborhood, even if police permitted her to do so, out of concern for Sarah.

Sarah’s father, Greg, has said he just wants Oliver out of the neighborhood.