MACON, GA (RNN) - Videos posted to Facebook appear to show sheriff’s deputies telling a man to cut his dog's head off after they shot it. An official with the Georgia Department of Public Health said deputies ignored the Georgia Department of Public Health protocols for dealing with animals suspected to have rabies.
Either a veterinarian or an animal control officer should have removed the head to provide a good specimen and for the protection of whomever performed the decapitation, GDPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in an email to the Telegraph on Tuesday.
On Monday, Joe Nate Godwin told the Macon Telegraph he decapitated his 2-year-old dog, Big Boy, after a deputy was called to the house. The dog bit one of his neighbors on the leg.
He recorded an altercation with the investigator who arrived after the incident and told him he had to remove the dead dog’s head to have it tested for rabies because of Georgia law.
Some of the Facebook videos were taken down because they were so graphic. The others still contain vulgar language.
Godwin was not at home when the deputy responded to the call and shot the dog after it lunged at him. Godwin's girlfriend called him and told him Big Boy was dead, and he came straight home from work.
The videos showed investigator James Hollis of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office informing Godwin that he had to take the dog’s head off. The men argued and Godwin cursed the investigator, who threatened to arrest him.
Godwin later told the Telegraph that Hollis called a woman named "Ms. Sims" at the Crawford County Health Department. A police report said that the owner of the dog or a veterinarian needed to cut the head off the dog so it could be tested for rabies. When he heard that, Godwin began cursing and Hollis said "you're not fixing to talk to me or my deputies like that," according to a police report the Telegraph said.
Godwin he said he didn’t have a knife to do it with. He told the Telegraph the deputies gave him the option of paying a veterinarian to cut the dog’s head off, but with Christmas around the corner money was tight.
The girlfriend wound up removing the dog’s head with a kitchen knife while Godwin and one of the deputies gave her instructions, the Telegraph reported. A video showed that she put the dog’s head in a white, plastic bag. The investigator told her to deliver it to the health department that night. She took it there at 7 p.m. and said she cried all the way.
An employee of the health department in Macon, GA, said there is a state protocol, but different counties handle it in different ways.
"Some counties have a deal worked out with veterinarians, "but those rural counties, they have to rely on their own staff and getting the information correctly," said Richard Craft, who told the Telegraph that Big Boy's head was being tested for rabies at a lab in Decatur, GA.
He added that if a civilian had to perform the decapitation themselves, they should wear an apron, gloves and eye protection to protect themselves from exposure.
The sheriff’s office said Monday that an internal investigation is underway regarding the videoed incident.
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