story update:

CBS 11 News has learned that Carrollton Animal Services will now hold the dogs in quarantine until space opens at Operation Kindness. Camo and Lex will then be transferred to the no-kill shelter to complete their 90-day quarantine and have their vaccinations updated — all free of charge. No euthanasia!

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CARROLLTON (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas man is fighting to keep his dogs. His battle isn’t because his pets are violent, but because they were exposed to a rabid skunk in their own back yard.

The city says the owner only has two options — a very expensive quarantine or euthanasia.

Lonnie Ivie was holed up in his Carrollton home late Thursday afternoon. He told CBS 11 News he wasn’t going to answer the door for a few hours in hopes that Carrollton officials won’t take his dogs.

It is problematic that the animals may develop rabies, but there’s also a big chance they won’t develop the fatal disease.

Looking at his treasured pets Ivie said, “They’re good little dogs.”

Camo and Lex are 12-year-old Terriers whose only crime is that a rabid skunk invaded their back yard Tuesday morning.

“The skunk was actually coming at me, and that’s when I shot him,” Ivie recalled.

Tests confirmed the skunk Ivie killed was rabid. But Camo and Lex are not current on their rabies vaccinations and state law is clear.

William Stearman, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine with the Coppell Veterinary Hospital, explained, “In the event the animal is not current on its rabies vaccinations then typically they’re put into a quarantine facility.”

That would mean 90 days in very expensive professional rabies isolation. The other option is to put the dogs down.

Ivie said he has examined his pets carefully. “I don’t find any cuts on my dogs or any bites. Nothing. And they’re fine, but now they want to euthanize my dogs – take them.”

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While Ivie says there are no obvious wounds on Camo or Lex, that’s not what the city says Ivie told them when he reported the suspicious skunk.

Carrollton Environmental Services Director Scott Hudson said the city was informed, “That the dogs had attacked the skunk and the skunk was attacking back and apparently the skunk had bitten one of the dogs.”

Rabies is painful and lingering disease and is almost always fatal. And it can be passed on to any animal, including humans.

Ivie argues he’s willing to put his dogs in their crate for 90 days. The city says that’s way too risky. His home is across the street from a school.

Hudson says there are other reasons why self-quarantine is unacceptable. “It’s not adequate isolation, because we don’t have control to insure that no member of the public comes in and gets exposed.”

So Ivie is left with a hard choice: spend up to $18,000 for the dogs or let the city put them to sleep.

“Yeah, it is a hard decision… real hard.”

According to the State, there have been eight positive rabies cases in Dallas County this year. There were 12 in Denton County, 21 in Tarrant County and 23 in Collin County. All but two of those 64 cases were skunks.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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