The Glen Burnie, Md., woman who is fighting efforts by health officials to destroy her pet monkey because it bit her father said today she has given the monkey to an animal protection group for safekeeping.
"I'm not going to back down," said Joanne Kolodnicki of her refusal to surrender the monkey to the Anne Arundel County animal control agency, which would kill the animal as part of a rabies test.
A hearing on the county health department's request for an order that would force Kolodnicki to turn over Missy, her 13-year-old spider monkey, was postponed from today until Thursday after her lawyer and those from the county debated more than an hour in a judge's chamber without reaching a settlement.
Sitting outside the courtroom, Kolodnicki, 41, tears welling in her eyes and defiance in her voice, said Missy is being cared for by representatives of the International Primate Protection League.
Joseph C. Asensio, Kolodnicki's attorney, said he offered to give the animal to the animal control agency if the county would agree to a one-week postponement that would allow him to collect experts who, he said, would testify that the monkey need not be destroyed to determine if it is rabid. The county would not agree, he said.
Deputy County Solicitor Victor Sulin, who represented the county, declined comment.
The monkey bit John Kolodnicki, 69, on the hand on Aug. 6 as he held his daughter's arm and the monkey mistook his action as an attack, Joanne Kolodnicki said. Kolodnicki took her father to a nearby hospital, where he was treated for cuts.
Health officials subsequently told her she would either have to turn over the monkey to animal control agents or her father would have to undergo a series of five shots to ward off rabies. When the father refused the shots, his daughter initially offered to turn over her pet of seven years, but she later refused.
Today, her older sister, Josephine McNally, and a niece flanked her in the hallway and showed onlookers a framed, color picture of a sad-eyed Missy.
Asensio said veterinarians he talked to in Pennsylvania and Texas say the chances of Missy having had rabies on Aug. 6, if she hasn't developed symptoms by now, are about the same as "getting hit by a meteorite."
County and state health officials disagree, however. Dr. J. Howard Beard, county health officer, said the normal 10-day quarantine does not apply to wild and exotic animals, because few of them have been studied for rabies. The incubation period for primates such as Missy is believed to parallel that in humans, which can be two to eight weeks or longer, he said.
"His the father's risk is of such a magnitude he should have the shots. If a human being develops symptoms, treatment is usually unsuccessful," Beard said.
"She's not rabid," insisted Joanne Kolodnicki, adding, "I would not jeopardize my father's life, believe me."
Since turning Missy over to the league, she said, "I've been told she's doing just wonderful, [but] she's pining."