Cat bit vet tech

Juniper_Junebug

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Juno bit the vet tech today during her yearly appointment today as the vet was trying to administer her rabies vaccine. It was so quick I didn't even see it happen. I feel bad but I don't know what I could have done to prevent it.

Afterwards, someone came and told me they were reporting Juno to animal control (I gather they have to), which might call and have her quarantined. I'm pretty upset at the thought. Looking online, I think maybe I can do it at home; taking her to a facility would be so traumatic. I want to say she's up to date on her rabies vaccine but technically, her last one was at the end of September of last year, so slightly more than one year ago (I ended up having to cancel my original appointment due to unexpected travel). She's indoor only.

I realize the legal aspect is state dependent (I'm in DC) but I'd love to hear from others who have had this happen and how things went. I'm pretty shaken.

(And yes, I plan to look for a cat-only vet. My current one is on a busy urban street with no parking lot and is noisy and chaotic inside. Plus now she's got a black mark on her record).
 

silent meowlook

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That’s horrible. I am so sorry they are reporting it. Is this a cooperation vet? That is something I would never do and I have been bit badly by cats before. I never went to a doctor though. I just healed and got better without. I can’t imagine reporting the cat.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Thanks for your reply! I'm kind just moping around all teary-eyed, worried that I messed up and Juno will get taken from me (and even if it's temporary, she's just gonna be a wreck).

I'm not sure about cooperation vet. What is that?

When the bite happened, I guess I didn't realize it was such a big deal, because neither I nor the vet noticed it. So I guess I assumed it wasn't that bad. It wasn't until I was waiting to check out that someone approached me to warn me about the report. It really freaked me out. I'm a lawyer, so I get it, if they are legally required to report. But I don't trust my local government at all; there are some great folks but also some capricious folks. So I am super worried they'll be unreasonable and I'll be faced with some unpalatable decisions.
 

fionasmom

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cooperation
I am not overstepping my bounds here, but I wonder if the word is "corporation" like VCA or AmeriVets?

I am so sorry that you are in this predicament. I had a feral kitten bite a vet tech several years ago and absolutely nothing happened nor was anything mentioned to me. The kitten and her mother were trapped together and were entirely wild, so while rabies in LA county is not found in even stray cats, there might have been some good reason for quarantining this pair, but they did not. While I have known of a couple of situations where vet techs were seriously injured by animals about whom the owner did not disclose a potential problem, it is also a risk of the job up to a reasonable point.

Who is insisting on the report? The vet tech as you said that the vet did not notice it? As far as what you could have done, I am guessing nothing. My vets don't let me hold my animals while they are giving injections.

They know that Juno is not rabid. Period. Next question, what is the rabies vector for DC?
Rabies and Animal Exposures | doh

Italics below are from the above site which goes into quite a bit of detail.

In the District of Columbia (DC), rabies is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks.


  • If your animal bites or attacks a person, DC Municipal Regulations DCMR 22-B203 require that you keep your dog or cat quarantined on your property (or another location if deemed necessary) for 10 days. A representative from DC Animal Control will inspect your animal on the first (day 1) and last day (day 10). If your animal starts acting sick or runs away during the quarantine period, notify DC Animal Control immediately. If your animal remains healthy during the quarantine, your animal will be released from quarantine (and the exposed person will not require rabies prophylaxis).
I would stand firm on the fact that Juno is indoor only with no opportunity to have contact with the above animals. There is no reason to consider her to be another Cujo and put into some kind of facility quarantine.
 

Caspers Human

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I don't think that vets are strictly required to report ALL animal bites because it is reasonable to think that an animal under treatment might lash out. IMO, being bitten is a risk that a vet or a vet tech must assume as part of their job.

A fireman has to assume that there is a risk of being injured or killed when he goes inside a burning building in order to fight a fire. Right? Why would a vet be free from assumed risk? If you are poking a needle in a cat's ass, it is logical to think that it might turn on you.

It would be different if it was an unfamiliar cat whose health (disease) status was unknown but, in your case, we're talking about a prior patient. I assume that your cat has had a rabies vax from this vet, before. Right? The vet knows or should know whether their patients are likely to carry a disease. It's a veterinarian's job to know these things. Isn't it?

Our eldest cat, Casper, bit a vet tech. They were treating him for constipation/megacolon by giving him an enema. The tech was holding him while the vet was trying do the deed. He turned and gave the tech a good one. He drew blood and everything. I was shocked because Casper is one of the sweetest cats you'll ever meet. But, hey! If you're shoving a tube up a cat's butthole it is reasonable to assume that the animal might turn on you.

If you were bringing in a feral cat that the vet has never seen, before, the situation would be different. We're talking about a house cat, here. She's a 100% indoor cat. Right? She has been vaccinated for rabies by this vet, before. Yes? We all know that a rabies vaccination doesn't expire like a parking meter. The risk if your cat having rabies or any other transmissible disease is small to nonexistent.

You are a lawyer. You are a professional. You know that, despite the letter of the law, there are times when lawyers need to use their professional judgement. That's your job. Isn't it?

A veterinarian is a professional, too. Vets are trained to use their professional judgement, just as you have been. It's their job!

I am NOT discounting the gravity of a human being bitten by an animal. Yes, it's a bad thing and animal bites can have grave consequences.

However:
  1. The animal in question is your cat, a known patient of this vet.
  2. Your cat is a 100% indoor cat that is very unlikely to have been exposed to diseases like rabies.
  3. Your cat has been vaccinated, before. Vaccines don't have a definitive expiration.
  4. A veterinarian must assume the risk of being bitten or injured by their animal patients.
  5. A veterinarian is a trained professional who is required, as part of their job, to use their professional judgement.
Therefore, I don't think it's too much to ask for a veterinarian to do their job and use their judgement. Do you?

Furthermore, I wouldn't trust a veterinarian who didn't use their judgement. Isn't that what you are PAYING them for?

In my opinion, if a vet isn't going to do the job that I'm paying them to do, I don't see any reason to pay them in the future.

Bottom line: If this vet turns you in because your cat bit them when they tried to stick a needle in its ass I would seriously consider whether I trust them. I would tell them so. If I got a BS response from them, I'd start looking for another vet and I would tell that to them, too.

There's an old lawyer joke: If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither are on your side, pound on the table!
 

Caspers Human

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My vets don't let me hold my animals while they are giving injections.
That's just the opposite for me. My vet asks me to hold my cats while she's giving them the shot.
Yes, Casper bit me the first time I took him in to get his shots. I expected that he might and, when he tried, I LET HIM do it!
Come on! A six-foot tall, 250 lb. man against a measly, ten-pound cat? The poor, little guy was getting needles stuck in him!

The vet saw it happen. Casper turned on me, I held my hand right there and let him keep biting. When he realized that I wasn't resisting, he let go and gave me a look that said, "I'm sorry." I patted him on the head and said, "I'm sorry, too."

The vet asked, "Did he get you?"
I said, "Yup! Got any alcohol?"
She answered, "Right there, on the counter."

I went to the sink and washed my hands with soap and hot water. She handed my a gauze pad. I disinfected it with alcohol. She looked at it and asked if I would be all right. It was just a couple of teeth marks. "No big deal," I said.

We packed Casper up in his cage. I took him out to the front desk. I pad the bill. We went home and nothing was ever said.

AFAIAC, that's just what can happen when you stick a needle in a cat's ass! ;) ;) ;)
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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I wish they let me hold her; I'd rather be the one to get bit. I didn't ask this time but I've offered in the past and they've said no. And even after the first abortive attempt to vax Juno, when she bit, they just put her in a towel and still had the vet tech hold her.

I never expected her to bite and somehow it feels like a failure on my part. I was pretty stressed by the time we got there, which she probably sensed; I was having a really hard time finding parking nearby and was worried about carrying her out on a busy street for several blocks, plus there's been a recent spike in crime, including pet thefts (granted, mostly small dogs), so I was stressing about having to park too far away. That experience alone made me think I need to switch to a vet in a quieter neighborhood with a parking lot.

Juno wriggled away after the needle was in but before the injection, I think. Is there anything about this that I should be worried about or watching for?

That's just the opposite for me. My vet asks me to hold my cats while she's giving them the shot.
Yes, Casper bit me the first time I took him in to get his shots. I expected that he might and, when it tried, I LET HIM do it!
Come on! A six-foot tall, 250 lb. man against a measly, ten-pound cat? The poor, little guy was getting needles stuck in him!

The vet saw it happen. Casper turned on me, I held my hand right there and let him keep biting. When he realized that I wasn't resisting, he let go and gave me a look that said, "I'm sorry." I patted him on the head and said, "I'm sorry, too."

The vet asked, "Did he get you?"
I said, "Yup! Got any alcohol?"
She answered, "Right there, on the counter."

I went to the sink and washed my hands with soap and hot water. She handed my a gauze pad. I disinfected it with alcohol. She looked at it and asked if I would be all right. It was just a couple of teeth marks. "No big deal," I said.

We packed Casper up in his cage. I took him out to the front desk. I pad the bill. We went home and nothing was ever said.

AFAIAC, that's just what can happen when you stick a needle in a cat's ass! ;) ;) ;)
 

eevans3373

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Sorry to hear that. Going to the vet is stressful enough but having to deal with that sort of nonsense is ridiculous. Why should you be punished because the vet tech was incompetent and didn't wear proper PPE. I would advise never bringing the cat back to that vet EVER for any reason and finding a more competent vet.

Also. In the future if you ever find yourself in such a negative interaction, make it well known you are a lawyer and use the fact you have free access to the legal system to intimidate, common sense lacking, woolite drinking, morons to take a course of action that makes sense.

There's an old lawyer joke: If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts. If neither are on your side, pound on the table!
This 1000x.
 

Caspers Human

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BTW: If the law in DC is anything like PA, if your cat does need to be quarantined, it can be done in your home, provided that somebody from Animal Control examines the cat immediately before the 10-day quarantine starts and immediately after.

If anybody tries to take the cat away, I'd be doing some serious table pounding, if I were you! ;) ;) ;)
 

sidneykitty

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It's ok, you didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes cats bite when they're scared or stressed - it's instinct. All vet staff are/should be aware of the possibility of being bitten in their work and know what to do when it happens. In some states/provinces, reporting is mandated. That may be the case in DC, which just means they are following the law.

I have been bitten twice by unvaccinated cats in two different situations:

1. In British Columbia, I was an assistant at a vet clinic restraining a kitten for her spay induction. She did not have a rabies vax on board. I went to a Dr, got antibiotics as a precaution, we reported to the health authority including the cat's history (indoor only, low risk, the circumstances of being bitten - i.e., she did not lash out randomly but did it while being poked with a needle) and the cat had to stay home for 10 days and be monitored by her parent for any symptoms. Nothing else ever happened, everyone was fine.

2. In Oregon, my <8 week old foster kitten went to the vet, got an anal swab, and bit me while I was helping restrain him. He is too young for a rabies vaccine. The circumstances were not unusual for a cat to bite a human. I had to see a dr to get antibiotics to treat the wound as a precaution and I was mandated to report the incident to the health authority. All that happened was 2 phone calls - one where they checked in to ask me what happened and I explain the situation. They told me to keep the kitten inside and monitored for symptoms for 2 weeks. When the 2 weeks were up and they called me again to check in, I told them he was healthy, no symptoms, and that was that. I never heard anything again.

Hopefully this will also be the case in this situation where you just keep your cat at home as usual and monitor her for any weird symptoms, report back she had none, and everyone will go on their merry way! If you have questions, let me know. This all sounds like very normal precautions to me and it sounds like your cat is of very low risk of rabies. I hope this helps.
 
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fionasmom

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The vets I have used out here do not let me hold my animals. I agree that it could be a big help, but it might have something to do with their liability insurance. I once offered to go in the back and help calm one of my GSDs who was panicked (nothing happened) and I was told that their liability insurance did not cover owners in that part of the hospital.

It is not a failure on your part. Animals who are frightened or in pain will react, no matter who they are. Using the towel before the incident would have been good thinking on their part.

Unless the code has changed, the regulation I posted in #4 states that Juno should be able to be kept at your home, if it even comes to that.

Definitely find another vet for a few reasons. This one is not that proficient at handling animals, which can result in more than a minor bite and in mishandling and injury or death to the pet. While I am not familiar with DC law and what is mandated reporting in your area, this is all over the top.

Am I Responsible If My Dog Bites My Vet? | Cottrell Law Office
This is an independent law firm in MO/AR, but they raise some interesting legal points under the "Veterinarian Exception Explained" section.
 

silent meowlook

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Yes it was supposed to be corporation.
The reality is that your cat doesn’t have rabies.
The law in many states is that veterinarians must report all bites.
There are vets who are unable to think outside the box and follow every letter of the law that report. There are also decent vets capable of seeing the big picture that don’t report. I couldn’t work for the latter.
In fact the last bad cat bite I got was deep. Poor sick cat attached to my arm and hung on. I hurt the vets feelings by telling him to please stop talking. I just waited for the cat to release.
The vet told me to go to the doctor and I said no. They said it was the law and I said I didn’t know what they were talking about since my injuries were from making kabobs at home earlier that day. Vet shook his head.
There are ways around it. But if everyone wants to stick to the letter of the law then they have to report.
It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with rabies vaccination status.
I worked at a place overnights and while getting a very sick corgi out of a top cage ( so stupid) the little dog freaked and nipped me barely braking the skin if at all. I mentioned it off hand to the next tech on shift and that was it, I thought.
The next day I learned that the owners decided to euthanize and that one of the vets had the head removed and sent to the county. The dog was current on his rabies vaccine. I raised holy hell about it but it had already been done. I didn’t work there for long after that.
 

IndyJones

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Kabuto has bitten the vet tech when she tried to draw blood but couldn't get a vein. He was quite fed up and yelped and bit her arm.

The vet tech shrugged it off and just washed it though. Nothing more was done.

Here I think bites are expected to happen with the occupation like how head injuries are expected on a construction site so they have to wear hardhats. Vets are expected to have pre exposure vaccines to protect themselves.
 

Antonio65

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The vet saw it happen. Casper turned on me, I held my hand right there and let him keep biting. When he realized that I wasn't resisting, he let go and gave me a look that said, "I'm sorry." I patted him on the head and said, "I'm sorry, too."

The vet asked, "Did he get you?"
I said, "Yup! Got any alcohol?"
She answered, "Right there, on the counter."
I don't know how it works in the US, but here in Italy vets wouldn't be allowed to treat injuries on humans. So, if some incident happens at the vet's, they could just ignore me, or let me do the medication on my own.
It seems, from your words, you did just the same.

The vets I have used out here do not let me hold my animals. I agree that it could be a big help, but it might have something to do with their liability insurance. I once offered to go in the back and help calm one of my GSDs who was panicked (nothing happened) and I was told that their liability insurance did not cover owners in that part of the hospital.
Apart from the operating room, I never let the vets, any vet, take my cats away from me, and I don't like them to restrain them much, I prefer to have full control of the situation.
On some occasions, they asked me to be an active person in the blood sampling process.
On a single occasion, at a clinic that I just tried once, the vet asked me to wait outside the room. I said that my cats weren't going anywhere without me, he answered "This isn't the way we work here", and I said "Well, I'm leaving now". The vet allowed me in.
Of course, I never went there again.

Poor sick cat attached to my arm and hung on. I hurt the vets feelings by telling him to please stop talking. I just waited for the cat to release.
The vet told me to go to the doctor and I said no. They said it was the law and I said I didn’t know what they were talking about since my injuries were from making kabobs at home earlier that day. Vet shook his head.
My feral cats colony is at my workplace, and many years ago a cat bit me severely. He pierced four deep holes in my forearm and the wounds wouldn't stop bleeding. My forearm was turning deep red and was swelling.
I went to the workplace infirmary, the nurse asked me what happened because she had to report it in her logbook. I replied that if she was going to write "cat bite" I would have left, because I didn't want to harm my colony. So, after a short negotiation she wrote "wild animal bite" ;)
 

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Several of us were bitten by an unvaccinated feral cat when she escaped at the rescue. We were required to hold her at the rescue for, I think, ten days. Everything was handled over the phone. I also received a phone call from the county to discuss this incident.

This happened in North Carolina. They may have been less strict with us because we are experienced animal people with whom they are very familiar. I hope your experience is as stress free.
 
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Juniper_Junebug

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Oof, animal control sent me a quarantine order today. I have to keep Juno home for 10 days and then present her on a video call to animal control to prove she's OK. So at least she can stay here. But I'm going to worried to the whole time (plus now I have to postpone a work trip so I can be here). Ugh, I hate this.

I hate to say this, but this experience is making me second guess going to the vet, at least when she's young and healthy. The risk does not seem worth the benefit, especially since having up to date rabies shots doesn't affect whether you have to quarantine (and they barely seemed to do anything at all to check her, bc they didn't want to handle her).
 
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