MORRIS – Bentley the cat is able to return to his Morris home after a decision this week by the Grundy County Board.
The cat was ordered confined for observation under a veterinarian’s care for a six-month period last month after it was exposed to a rabid bat found in the family’s basement. The cat had not been vaccinated against rabies.
Owners Michael and Joanne Morrall requested the county release Bentley to their care for the remainder of the confinement period.
Rabies is a contagious viral disease passed between mammals by a bite, scratch or mucus secretions of an infected animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus affects the central nervous system. It can take months for symptoms to appear after a bite.
The CDC’s and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s recommendation for pets exposed to rabies is euthanization or six months of isolation for the animal, and vaccinating it against rabies a month before it’s released.
The board approved Tuesday a legal agreement with the family to allow the cat to continue its confinement at its home. Board member Deb Warning was the first to speak about it.
“My heart goes out to you regarding this issue,” she said. “But I would not support this.”
Warning said the CDC and the IDPH recommend euthanasia for pets exposed to rabies. Warning said she thought the family could choose the method of euthanasia for the cat.
Board member Teryl Lundeen favored releasing the cat to home confinement, noting that since the cat would be in confinement in the Morrall’s home, it was a better choice than euthanasia.
The agreement was approved. Warning, Chris Balkema and Frank Halpin voted against. Ann Gill abstained.
The agreement stipulates the enclosure be impassable by the cat and in sanitary condition. No person or animal not vaccinated against rabies will be allowed to be exposed to the cat while it’s confined. The Morralls have been vaccinated.
The family must maintain a close observation of the cat and provide veterinarian services for him in the event of a change of behavior, and provide the county with proof of liability insurance demonstrating coverage of third parties who may suffer injury from the cat.
The agreement includes an indemnification of the county from any injury or disease transmitted by the cat during the confinement period.