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BEWARE ABOVE LINK IS VERY GRAPHIC!!! Not for
the weak stomach.
This is Kodo. For those of you who don't know who he was, here is his story.
Kodo was killed by Bay County, Michigan Animal Control on June 12, 1997 after an intense 40+ day battle to save his life.
Here's the story:
Kodo's owner, Robert Jacobs, was asked by Bay County Animal Control to bring Kodo to participate in a show at a local mall on May 2, 1997, as a part of national pet week. Mr. Jacobs happily accepted. During the show, an elderly man reached out to pet Kodo, when he apparently scraped his hand on Kodo's tooth, drawing a slight amount of blood. Sometime later, the gentleman commented to his wife about the scratch. Karen Burns, the animal control officer that requested Kodo's presence overheard the remark, and demanded that he fill out a bite complaint. When the man declined, the officer did it for him. She then proceeded to seize Kodo, and order him killed and tested for rabies. What followed was an intense legal battle that involved a nation-wide letter writing campaign to help save Kodo. By the end, Kodo had been granted three stays of execution, and had his case heard all the way to the Michigan State Supreme Court.
Fact: No ferret has ever transmitted rabies to a human.
Fact: No ferret has lived longer than 10 days in a rabies study. Kodo was in quarantine for over 40 days and never showed any signs of illness.
Fact: The state of Michigan killed and tested 244 ferrets since 1995. None of them tested positive for rabies.
Fact: The CDC reports only 21 rabid ferrets since 1958.
Fact: Kodo was up to date on all of his vaccinations, including his rabies shots!
Fact: Kodo tested negative for rabies!
Since Kodo's death, efforts have not ended. Due to intense media and public pressure, a bill has been drafted and submitted to the Michigan State Senate. This bill, SB616, titled "Kodo's Protection Law," was authored by Senator Chris Dingell D-Trenton, and would change the classification of ferrets to "Companion Pets," the same classification as dogs and cats. Most importantly, it would mandate a 10 day quarantine period for ferrets involved in bite incidents, and eliminate the kill and test policy now being used. This bill has just begun the process, and needs all the support it can get.
While the introduction of this new bill will help, the fact remains that Kodo didn't have to die. Michigan law already states that the current CDC recommendations should be used regarding animal bites. In the CDC's most recent recommendation, "Compendium of Animal Rabies Control 1997," it states that, "Management of animals other than dogs and cats depends on the species, the circumstances of the bite, the epidemiology of rabies in the area, and the biting animal's history, current health status, and potential for exposure to rabies" (p.9). As we have already pointed out, Kodo was properly vaccinated for rabies, and showed no health problems, even after 40+ days in quarantine. Further, Kodo did not bite the man, he merely scratched him, resulting in nearly zero risk to the person. Kodo had a clean bill of health through out his short one year of life, and did not have a history of biting.
So why did Kodo die? It appears a couple of factors played into this atrocity.
First of all, Karen Burns, Director of Bay County Animal Control (517) 894-0679, did not need to confiscate Kodo. The man involved in the scratch did not want to file a complaint, and was against killing Kodo from the beginning. According to some reports, Karen Burns even admitted in court that she may have been overzealous in her pursuit of the case. A second and most important factor is Dr. Mary Grace Stobierski DVM, the head veterinarian for the Michigan Department of Community Health. Dr. Stobierski fought vigorously against efforts in 1994 when ferrets were first legalized in Michigan, and has been pursuing irrational and inhumane policies ever since. The CDC has clearly stated that a risk assessment should take place for each bite incident, and recommends a 10 day quarantine unless otherwise warranted. Dr. Stobierski has disregarded this policy, and implemented her own kill and test mandate for every ferret that so much as scratches a human. One final person was responsible for this senseless killing, James Haveman, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. Many have asked why Mr. Haveman sits by while Dr. Stobierski wages her personal war against ferrets. Michigan law defers directly to the CDC recommendations, yet he knowingly allows one of his employees to disregard this law and make up her own policy. We have been unsuccessful in obtaining an explanation for this.
Some more unhappy facts.
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 1997 20:10:18 -0400
From: Micki Wingate
Subject: MICHIGAN INQUISITION
This one tops them all!!!
On or about 3-28-97 Rebecca purchased "Thunder" from a fellow named Mike.
They both live in Owosso, Mi (can you guess what's coming??).
The reason Mike was selling Thunder is his fiancée did not want the ferret, no other reason was given for the sale.
Thunder had been purchased from a pet shop at 8 weeks of age and his exam date was listed as 2-12-97. His health certificate accompanied the sale. Thunder was examined again by Rebecca's vet and vaccinated for rabies on 5-24-97.
On Wednesday 7-23-97 The Shiawasse Health Dept. called Rebecca asking if she had Thunder, when Rebecca said yes she had the ferret, she was asked if the ferret had any health problems or was sick in any way.
Rebecca told the woman the ferret was very healthy, had never shown any signs of being sick, ate, drank and played well.
Rebecca was asked if she had the ferret to the vet for any exams since purchased, Rebecca said yes.
The woman from the Health Dept. said that the ferret had been involved in a bite, but that they were not going to do anything about it, because it was over 4 months old, she also told Rebecca not to worry, they would not take her ferret.
The next day, 7-24-97, Mr. Jack Bunting, from Shiawasse Animal Control showed up at her door and demanded she turn over the ferret for immediate destruction.
She asked if he had a court order, he said no, she then told him to get off her land, and not come back.
Mr. Bunting told her he would get a court order and that she would have to pay him a $35.00 cost for destroying the ferret. Rebecca told him he was crazy and that she would never pay. He left saying he would be back with the court order.
Later the same day the assistant prosecuting attorney from Shiawasse County called and asked her similar questions about the ferret. Rebecca told her the same things she had told the Health Dept.
The assist. PA said as far as she was concerned there was no case due to lack of info and the time frame. She did say her boss Randy Colbrey was on vacation, and that when he returned on Monday, she would talk it over with him.
On Tuesday 7-29-97, Randy Colbrey, the chief prosecuting attorney from Shiawasse County (the same one that had the heart recipient arrested and held without bond until Kelly was turned over), called Rebecca and told her to turn over the ferret or go to jail.
He said it was his call, the law stated that if the ferret bit it was to be destroyed and tested for rabies.
Rebecca said she was under the impression the bite had to be reported within 48 hours, and that neither the child or ferret were ill. Colbrey said the rabies virus can stay dormant for UP TO SEVEN YEARS in ferrets and he was told this by a Dr.
Rebecca asked who the Dr. was, Colbrey declined to give her the name. He asked her if she was going to co-operate or did he have to get a court order. Rebecca stated at the time (feeling she had no choice) that she would turn over the ferret on 7-30-97. She cannot go to jail as she has an ailing grandfather and a grandson to take care of as well as a job. Then she called the GLFA and Sal Gani the attorney. --this was the info as of 4:30pm on Wednesay 7-30-97---
I have since been told that now Colbrey has changed his mind about pursuing this but the MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY HEALTH wants the ferret dead. This is insane. It's as if they feel they can do whatever they want and our rights as citizens be damned. This is
truly without merit and looks exactly like what it is - a ferret inquisition in Michigan. If anyone has access to the media let them know Michigan is at it again.
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 1997 00:08:18 -0400
From: Micki Wingate
This is so disheartening.
Mike and his fiancée got married. Mike and his new bride are getting a divorce. The children (ages 3 & 1) have been taken from the woman by the state and placed in foster care (reason unknown). Woman is angry at everyone so calls and reports this alleged bite four and a half months after it happens.
The pediatrician NEVER SAW THE CHILD,only talked to the woman on the phone.
The pediatrician determined that an exposure had taken place and said he wanted the ferret destroyed. Rebecca gave the ferret to someone who was willing to go to jail. The warrant was issued and when they got to Rebecca's and she told them she no longer had the ferret, they said they didn't care who had it SHE was going to jail. As I said yesterday, she has a grandfather (not father) with
Alzheimer's and is raising her grandson. You can imagine the fear she had for her family. She asked that Thunder be brought back to be destroyed. This occurred at 3:30pm Aug 1,1997 and I'm sure the ferret was dead by 3:40.
Now, in a court of law, under oath I heard Dr. Stobierski and Dr. Hall say that they can only advise on these situations and that it is up to the local health departments to make the decisions regarding these cases. Remember that Rebecca was called by the Shiawasse Health Dept. and assured after she had answered their questions that everything was ok and they would not be coming for her ferret. They did the right thing and then MDCH stepped in an overrode their decision. So, it is clear that they lied under oath.
It is also clear that they are not protecting the public health, they are just killing ferrets. They took the word of a Dr. who had no contact with the child, and the word of a woman who is obviously not doing something right if the State took her children away, and said they were doing it for the safety of the child.
There is no proof that a bite even occurred!! This is so obviously wrong and so obviously being ignored by the people who have the power to make it stop. I firmly believe that the CDC could stop this insanity if they wanted to. I think as long as they keep saying they need more studies the money will keep coming and the guarantee of at least another years work.
In the meantime we have situations like we do in Michigan.
I wonder how those responsible can sleep at night?
Please everyone. Contact your state health department and under the Freedom of Information Act request the number of ferrets destroyed and tested for rabies year by year for at least 10 years back. This info should be sent to Troy Lynn Eckhart and on the rabies page in
Kodo's kozykingdom web site.
I would bet there have been thousands of ferrets destroyed in the last ten years.
I am so sorry we couldn't save him.
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 1997 20:38:07 -0400
From: "marie i. schatz"
>From the Kalamazoo Gazette (town on southern MI, didn't get the feed, it was in a column with other small articles),
[29 July 97].
REPORT SAYS FERRETS LIKELIER TO BE KILLED
>Flint - Ferrets are more likely to be killed out of concern over rabies than other domestic animals that
actually are more likely to have the disease, say experts who want to see changes in treatment standards of ferrets.
>State and local officials are beheading an average of two pet ferrets a week after biting incidents, The Flint Journal reported Monday.
>In two recent cases, a man was jailed for refusing to say where his ferret was and another went to the Supreme Court.
These stories were taken from Rhadluck's Ferret Page, which can be found at