From correspondent Tammy Grubb
PITTSBORO -- Free Gidget!
The rallying cry from friends and family is growing as the 5-pound, 7-year-old Yorkshire terrier counts down her days to freedom.
Gidget’s friends have responded to her confinement by posting pictures on Facebook -- www.facebook.com/home.php#!/sanford.animal.hospital -- calling for her immediate release.
Sanford Animal Hospital started the campaign Saturday with a post to its Facebook page about Gidget’s stay in the pokey for biting a vet technician Jan. 24 at Jordan Lake Animal Hospital. Because Gidget’s rabies vaccination expired in October, the Chatham County health director ordered her to be confined for 10 days, as required by state law.
Gidget’s owner, town Commissioner Clinton Bryan, initially asked to keep the dog confined at home. State law allows that option with the local health director’s approval. However, director Holly Coleman said the county’s longtime policy has been to confine animals at an approved facility.
On Friday, Bryan removed Gidget from the first ordered confinement at the Jordan Lake Animal Hospital. When Coleman advised him of the potential consequences, he then took Gidget to Sanford. On Saturday, he sprang her from confinement again. County officials found Gidget on Monday when Bryan’s wife Jane returned her to the Sanford clinic.
Bryan has been charged with a misdemeanor for removing his dog from quarantine and is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 9.
Although Bryan and his wife have declined to comment, Jane Bryan has been communicating with Gidget’s supporters this week via Facebook.
“This has been quite an ordeal,” she wrote Wednesday. “You guys have made this situation a little easier for me by demonstrating your love and support. ‘Life isn't about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain.’ ”
Jennifer Dorsey, a family friend who lives in Henderson, said Gidget and her dog Scarlett are great friends, spending vacations every year together at the beach.
“They’re really good friends and really good people,” Dorsey said of the Bryans. “They’ll admit they were late [with her vaccination], but that’s why they were there.”
Dorsey said Bryan warned the staff at Jordan Lake Animal Hospital that the dog might nip them when they gave her the shot and that they should muzzle her or let him hold her.
The whole experience has traumatized the tiny dog, which has never been kenneled or away from her family, even for a short time, Dorsey said. The first time she came home, Gidget started relieving herself inside, something she had never done before, Dorsey said.
Coleman said the incident shows how important it is to keep up with your pet’s rabies vaccinations. The county will hold a $5 vaccination clinic from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 19 at the Chatham County Animal Shelter, 725 County Landfill Road, she said. Cats should arrive at the clinic in carriers and dogs on leashes.