Primate Rescue Center

Euthanized Monkey Did Not Have Rabies

Erika Fleury January 21, 2014

A spider monkey who was euthanized after biting a man in Vermilion, Ohio did not have rabies, according to the Erie County Health Department.

The 2-year-old monkey named Brodi was placed in quarantine after the incident occurred Tuesday involving a car dealership employee.

The employee said he was helping to remove plates for the customer’s car at the time. When he was finished, he walked over to the window of the car and saw a man sitting with Brodi. The man asked if he could pet the monkey, and after getting permission, put his hand inside the car. The monkey smelled his hand and then bit his right thumb, according to the police report. The bite mark caused a small puncture wound and started bleeding. The employee said he went to Mercy Hospital for medical treatment.

“He doesn’t have rabies. This is not fair to do to him,” said Jacob Ruehlman, a co-owner of Brodi. Ruehlman said the monkey was vaccinated and has all his shots. “Brodi was just protecting us,” Ruehlman said. “He doesn’t deserve this.”

Brodi lived with Jacob and his family in Vermilion. Brodi’s co-owner, Diana Tanner, lives near Columbus and has been keeping Brodi in quarantine since the incident occurred. Tanner was sobbing when reached by Fox 8 Friday night. She said she pleaded with Erie County officials to find another way to test Brodi.

Tanner told Fox 8 that health officials came to her house around 8 p.m. Friday and took Brodi after sedating him. “They should have given us time to do something about it. I feel all they did was take him and four short hours later they euthanized him. They didn’t even give him a chance to live,” said Jacob Ruehlman.

Pete Schade, The Erie County Health Commissioner, previously told FOX 8 News that there isn’t another test for rabies, because the virus migrates to the brain. Schade said he consulted with several veterinarians across the area, including officials with the Columbus Zoo before Brodi was euthanized.

Schade said he had a responsibility to the victim and knows that the victim has been cleared of 2 of the 4 rabies tests thus far. The results of Brodi’s rabies test came in around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Schade told FOX 8 Saturday morning, “It’s unfortunate the animal was in that position in the first place and taken out in the public arena.” He also accused Ruehlman of violating several laws that led up to the bite, which ultimately cost Brodi his life. In a press release issued Saturday evening,  Schade said the decision to euthanize the monkey was made based on the Ohio Revised Code and consultation with the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Department of Health.

Serena Dresbach, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, made the following statement in the news release Saturday: “This is an unfortunate situation, but it reinforces the fact that Ohio’s dangerous wild animal regulations exist for the protection of animals as much as for Ohioans. When those rules are followed, outcomes like this can hopefully be avoided.”

Schade also said the following in the release: “The state’s laws regulating dangerous wild animals state that animals must be transported in double containment (primary and secondary) enclosures. While the vehicle, if fully enclosed, may serve as the secondary enclosure, the primary enclosure must be constructed so that no body part can protrude from the enclosure. Additionally, permit holders are not permitted to allow the public to come into contact with dangerous wild animals, and that prohibition exists to prevent harm and the potential transfer of disease...Had state law been followed, this outcome could have been avoided.”

People from across Northeast Ohio held a protest outside the Erie County Health Department in Sandusky Saturday morning hoping to save Brodi’s life. An online petition was also created in support of Brodi.

Ruehlman told FOX 8 News Peggy Sinkovich he is devastated and is hoping to get Brodi’s remains. Ruehlman said he is now considering legal action against Erie County Health Officials. The monkey’s owner told police he didn’t have an exotic animals permit, but said Brodi had received a rabies vaccination earlier this year. Police said they were able to confirm that with a veterinarian in Missouri.

“Just his precious little face, and when I come home from work that’s all I do is spend my time with him and I’m never going to see him again,” said Ruehlman.”I had him since he was only eight weeks old. I had him for over two years, now.”

- Fox 8 Cleveland

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