NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Owning a dog can be expensive, but one local owner is paying thousands of dollars to keep her dog locked up at the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit.
Echo Mills doesn't have any other option but to keep her dog Tobbie locked up at the kennel.
New Hanover County has seen more than 20 cases of rabies this year and Tobbie is one of those cases.
Tobbie will spend the next four months behind bars as Mills dishes out close to $2,700 for him to stay there. It costs $15 a day to feed the dog and clean the cage at animal services.
"He's never been in a cage his whole life, so that's the bad part," said Mills.
The Mastiff mix is in for an extended stay after a day of play took a turn for the worst in Castle Hayne. Mills said she lives down a long dirt road and has let her dogs out to play in the yard for years. One day Tobbie was out playing and the next thing she knew he had chased after a raccoon and killed it. She later found out the raccoon, which tested positive for rabies, got a hold of Tobbie and bit him on the lip.
Mills said Tobbie had his first rabies vaccination but fell behind on the rabies booster because her veterinarian called her nearly two weeks late. State regulations are very strict and require all domestic animals exposed to rabies to go into quarantine regardless of the situation.
"I think it's like being in jail for any person who hasn't done anything wrong," she said. "To be in jail for six month for no reason is ridiculous."
Mills is permitted to visit Tobbie for two hours every day, but she must wear a mask and gloves. Tobbie also has to stay in the cage.
"The only person that can visit is the registered owner," said Officer Steve Watson with New Hanover County Animal Services. "The dogs aren't exercised they must stay quarantined."
Tobbie is one of three dogs currently quarantined at the county shelter. If an owner does not keep up with payments, the dog can and will be put down.
The state requires animal services to offer at least one rabies clinic free of charge. New Hanover County is coming up on its fourth one. It is scheduled for Nov. 14 at the animal services unit located at 180 Division Drive in Wilmington.
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