VERMILION, Ohio - Erie County Department of Health Officials confirmed Saturday afternoon, Brodi, the pet spider monkey euthanized for possible rabies, does not in fact have the disease.
The pet was taken from a home late Friday night according to its owner, Jacob Ruehlman, who then said the exotic animal was euthanized at around midnight.
Ruehlman said he was not made aware of this until later Saturday morning.
Staring at Brodi's empty cage, he said crying, "He was more like my best friend. He wore diapers and the only time he was in his cage was when I was at work. When I was home he was with me all day, like, pretty much like a child and he meant the world ... and now I'll never get to see him ever again."
Ruehlman said the family even hired a lawyer trying to stop Brodi from being euthanized. Ruehlman, upset with county and state officials, said the euthanization of his pet was unfair.
Jacob A. Ruehlman, 20, of Vermilion, was holding the spider monkey, Brodi, in a car at the Pat O'Brien Chevrolet dealership on Liberty Avenue when according to police, an employee asked if he could pet it. When the employee reached out, the monkey bit his thumb, drawing blood.
The employee was treated at a hospital for the small bite. Vermilion Police confirmed with the spider monkey's veterinarian that it had received a rabies vaccination.
Police claimed that Ruehlman did not have a permit to own an exotic animal, and there are questions about who owns the animal. According to the Erie County Department of Health, representatives went to Ruehlman's home Wednesday night but he and the monkey were gone.
Ruehlman has documentation showing he applied for the proper permit but said he had not been issued one yet. Still, Erie County Department of Health officials said there were other "numerous" violations found with regards to the care of the exotic animal.
Bob England, Director of Environmental Health with the Erie County Department of Health said over the phone, transportation of Brodi without the proper enclosure was one of the violations.
Ruehlman told NewsChannel5 Brodi was removed from the home of Diana Tanner, a friend he said also applied for co-ownership of Brodi.
The Ohio Department of Health found the monkey in Union County but did not take it at first. They arrived late Friday night with a warrant.
Officials took Brodi to test the animal for rabies - which requires euthanizing it and removing its head to test its brain.
Ruehlman said, "We should've been given a chance to fight for his life because look at murders and rapists out there, they get 20+ years with that. But an animal that barely bites someone on their finger and they kill the animal after taking it within four hours."
It's the bite, Erie County officials said, was the biggest problem.
Over the phone England told NewsChannel5, "The victim was adamant, they wanted to have this animal tested and that's our obligation. The citizens of Erie County, the people who work in Erie County, if they are exposed to a monkey during a bite, and there's the chance of rabies transmission and they want to have the animal tested, that is their right and it's our obligation and our duty at the Erie County Health Department to make sure that, that is performed and that we-reassure the public that after an exposure like this, they have no risk for rabies."
"This is an unfortunate situation but it reinforces the fact that Ohio's dangerous wild animal regulations exist for the protection of the animals as much as for Ohioans. When those rules are followed, outcomes like this can hopefully be avoided," said Serena Dresbach, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Ruehlman and his twin brother, Michael, were arrested with two gibbons that had been reported stolen from Nebraska in Lee County, Florida Sept. 19, court records indicate. Misdemeanor charges filed after their arrests are still pending in Lee County Common Pleas Court.
Brodi has his own YouTube channel, Ruehlman told newsnet5.com. Watch the most recent video below and click here to see more.