Spider monkey put to death

A pet monkey that bit a man in Vermilion tested negative for rabies after Erie County health officials euthanized it Saturday.
Courtney Astolfi
Jan 21, 2014


Jacob Ruehlman, of Vermilion Township, took Brodi, his white belly spider monkey, to Pat O’Brien Chevrolet on Jan. 14, where it bit an employee who asked to pet it, according to a Vermilion police report.    

Brodi’s tooth had punctured the worker’s thumb and drew blood, leaving the man exposed to a myriad of possible diseases, including rabies, Erie County Health commissioner Pete Schade said.

Vermilion police told Ruehlman to quarantine the animal, similar to the procedure officers follow when handling dog bites. Schade said police were misinformed in telling Ruehlman to do so.

“There was never any quarantine considered for the monkey, and there is no known quarantine period for a monkey bite” Schade said.

By Wednesday, Ruehlman had allegedly spirited the animal off to its co-owner’s home in Marysville, just outside of Columbus, Schade said.

Officials seized Brodi from that home Friday and hauled it back to Erie County, per state law.

“Dissection of the brain stem is the only way to positively rule out the presence of rabies in any animal” Schade stated in a release.

Weather conditions and unexpected delays — namely the need to obtain a search warrant for the Marysville home, and an identification process using a microchip embedded in the animal — held up proceedings, Schade said.

The monkey made it back to Erie County late Friday and was euthanized, with state officials conducting rabies tests on its brain stem Saturday morning, Schade said.

Schade said the quick turnaround was necessary to ensure the bite victim’s health and the fact that Erie County had no way to house the monkey for an extended period of time.

In the days since Brodi was seized, a Change.org petition and Facebook page entitled “Justice for Brodi” has been created.

The petition contends a simple blood test could have determined if Brodi had rabies, and that the monkey was up-to-date on his rabies vaccination.

“Contrary to some of the information out there, there is no blood antigen tests we could’ve done in the presence of a mammal,” Schade said. “And it did have a rabies shot two years ago in Nebraska, but the kind of rabies inoculation they gave him doesn’t cover monkeys.”

Schade said he made the decision to euthanize the animal after several hours of discussion with state agriculture and health officials, along with experts from the Columbus Zoo.

“We had a guy who was bitten, and the only thing I could assure him is we could test the monkey right now to make sure it’s rabiesfree” Schade said.

“I am placing all the blame back on the owner. It is his fault,” Schade said. “When you have a pet monkey or exotic animal — whether you register it or license it is a side-point — you need to make sure you protect yourself and others”

In September, Jacob Ruehlman and his twin brother Michael Ruehlman were arrested in Lee County, Fla. after they allegedly stole two Gibbon monkeys that belonged to a woman they lived with in Nebraska, according to news agencies in Florida.

They were charged with dealing in stolen property, a felony, and the case is still pending. They were also charged with six misdemeanor offenses related to the improper sale and and handling of a wild animal.

That case is also pending.



If he would of followed the law and had the animal in a cage this would not of happened. Why take him to a car dealership anyways? those two need to deal more with humans than monkeys and get a life


If he would have...this would not have...


the monkey lost in this business.

nosey rosey

Another animal needless killed because of ignorant humans. Why would anyone trust the Columbus zoo? They killed one of the animals taken from the idot in Zanesville because of their ineptitude.

mimi's word

Is that where they bought the monkey...Columbus Zoo? What animal did they kill from the Zanesville incident?

nosey rosey

I believe it was a black leopard and they crushed it with a door between two enclosures.

mimi's word

Just like with dogs this animal was destroyed because of owners laziness. That is exactly what the ECHD wants to make sure EVERYONE KNOWS...don't follow our rules we will kill you animals...Is it worth your animals life to not follow the rules?

thinkagain's picture

You’re slippin’ SR…you should have titled this article, ”Gay spider monkey put to death”. Think of all those newspapers you could sell.

Bottom Line

Excellent comment


it was a rather stupid comment actually...


Sure was!


Good going Jacob Ruehlman, because of your stupidity,your pet paid the ultimate price. I have a German Shepherd, and when I take her with me, and folks ask me if it's okay to pet her, I always say " NO" Because you never know what their reaction will be to certain people.


If the monkey was bad he should have spanked it


Oh my! Haven't heard that one in years! Still made me chuckle.


I am sorry that Mr. Ruehlman lost his pet. And I think that maybe the Erie County Health department acted in haste. That being said, why in the world would someone take a "novelty" pet anywhere in public? Of course people will be curious.


So from here on out, if a dog bites someone in erie county Ohio, it will be euthanized ? Time to shake some people up and wake up!


Read the article please. It wasn't euthanized because it bit someone. It was euthanized because it bit someone and wasn't properly inocculated for rabies, and there was no other way to determine if it DID hava rabies.


the animal always pays when it comes to humans.


all monkeys bite. The owner shows little care in this case. Monkeys belong with other monkeys like themselves, they are mammals not toys.




Simple logic for those of you who disagree with the outcome: The monkey BIT someone and deserved to die because of that. I'm betting the two nitwit owners learned their lesson.

mimi's word

He did not deserve to die because he bit anyone. He was put down because the vaccine has not been approved for a spider mpnkey. Ok so by your logic if I stick my hand in your face then you better not defend yourself the only way you know how or we will put you down...Amazing we don't kill other people who are convicted of killing as fast as we do animals who are only responding instinctively


The main point of my original post was hoping the owners of any pet learn a lesson. They bite, they die. PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

More importantly, for the safety of the VICTIM--the PERSON who was bit by this animal--the euthanization was necessary. The animal IS NOT a victim in ANY of these cases. It was an aggressor, and human life is much more important than that of an animal.

mimi's word

The way I see it the animal felt the human was an aggressor and responded appropriately for its species. I am tired of "people are much more important than an animal" I haven't seen much displayed by the human race to substantiate that claim...My point is the animal did not have to be destroyed. If it was a dog they would not have killed it in such a short period of time to see if it had rabies. Why wasn't this extended to the monkey...to prove a point that is the ONLY reason...

nosey rosey

It did not deserve to die. Your logic is flawed.

Julie R.

Wow ...... isn't that the truth. Scum-bag humans that commit murder get to sit on death row for 20 years while attorneys file one appeal after another. On the other hand, an animal bites because it's the only way it knows how to protect itself and then gets put down because of the stupidity of people. It was ignorant of the owner to take it into a car dealership to begin with but it was also ignorant of the car salesman to try and pet it.


It was also ignorant for the guy to own the monkey in the first place and to take it to the dealership. I just don't agree the monkey was trying to protect itself. Protection from what? Animals do protect themselves in other ways than biting. People really need to stop trying to make every animal a pet.


Oh, for heaven's sake. So the monkey bit somebody. From the account here, it wasn't much of a bite. Yes, it broke the skin. So?

People are such babies any more. They get scratched by a cat or nipped by a dog and go insane. Not so very long ago, my mother would have dipped my finger in alcohol, put a band-aid on it, and told me to stop being an idiot and putting my fingers in the way of an animal's mouth.

I'd also note that, so far, I haven't died of rabies. Sheesh!

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Multiple "patient zero" scenarios come to mind. Or even... Have you seen the movie "12 Monkeys"?

Though on a more serious note you can't be too careful these days. I cut my finger through a glove handling anti biotic cleaners while cleaning the bathroom at the store and despite RAPID sterilization of both my finger and the bathroom I was upset for a few days wondering what I could have contracted, if anything. I am hardly a germophobe to boot.


Is there a CHANCE the monkey had rabies? I suppose, but the probability approached zero. Is there a CHANCE you can get flesh-eating bacteria or something cleaning the bathroom? Sure. But again, the probability approaches zero.

You may not be a germophobe, and I'm not Little Missy Casual about that kind of thing. But making mountains out of molehills serves nothing except the development of an ulcer and the death of an innocent animal.