Animal Bites & Rabies
As COVID-19 continues to impact us locally, we will be closing all Public Health Madison & Dane County offices to the public effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Although this decision was not arrived at easily, it is a decision that we needed to make. We are prioritizing preserving the health and safety of our staff and clients while continuing to maintain our ability to provide essential services, including our response to COVID-19.
We will continue providing services through alternate avenues, detailed below, but at this time we are reducing our direct contact with the public.
Animal Services is providing only priority services at this time. Specifically:
- Staff will respond to requests from the public when time permits.
- Staff will respond to calls from Dispatch and requests for delivery of COVID-19 supplies.
- Priority areas include Bites, rabies follow-up, dangerous animals, animal welfare, and injured/sick wildlife in public spaces presenting a risk to the community.
Reporting an animal bite, even if you own the animal or know the owner, is important to reduce the chances of spreading disease.
If You Get Bitten
- Immediately wash the wound well with soap and water.
- See a medical provider for treatment as soon as possible.
- Report the bite.
How to Report A Bite
It is important to locate the animal to find out if it has been vaccinated for rabies or determine if it could have rabies if it has not been vaccinated.
- Call Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and say you are calling to report an animal bite.
- If you don't know the animal's owner, or it was a stray or wild animal, tell dispatch as much as you can about the animal to make it easier for them to find it. Include what it looked like, where you saw it, and if you’ve seen the animal before.
- Dispatch will take your information and give it to an Animal Services Officer who will follow-up.
If You Were Bitten by a Dog, Cat or Other Pet
- Find out if the pet is up to date on rabies shots by asking the owner to call their vet.
- If you don't know the owner or the animal has left the area you are in, our Animal Services Officer will help you attempt to capture or find the animal.
- If bitten while passing by a leashed dog, stop and check to see if the bite broke the skin and get the owner's information. Do not wait to check the bite when you get home. It may be too late to find the owner and you may have to get rabies shots.
- All dogs and cats that have bitten a person need to be quarantined for 10 days and checked by a vet for signs of rabies.
- If the animal shows no signs of rabies after 10 days, the animal did not have rabies when it bit you and you do not need rabies shots.
- If the animal shows signs of rabies, more testing will happen and you may need to see a doctor to get rabies shots.
If You Were Bitten by a Wild Animal (bat*, skunk, fox, raccoon, etc.)
- Watch the animal so that it can be captured. It is ok for you to capture the animal if you can do so without being bitten again.
- If you need to kill the animal, don't damage the head. The animal head will be sent to a lab for rabies testing. If the animal can't immediately be sent to the lab, keep it cool since heat and time break down tissue needed for testing.
- We may be able to help you capture the animal and have it tested for rabies. Call Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and ask for the Animal Services Officer. Our officers are on duty from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm seven days a week.
- If the animal's rabies test is positive, you need to receive rabies shots as soon as possible.
- If the animal's rabies test is negative, you were not exposed to rabies at the time of the incident.
- If the animal was not captured or if the test came back indeterminate (uncertain), talk to your doctor. You may need to start rabies shots as soon as possible.
*What you need to know about bats
Bat bites are hard to detect. If you find a bat in a room with a sleeping person, an unattended child, a mentally disabled person, a pet, or someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may not realize they were bitten. Safely capture the bat or keep it in a room with the doors and windows closed. DON'T SET IT FREE. Call Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and ask for the Animal Services Officer to pick up the bat and have it tested for rabies.
If you are sure that no people or pets have come in contact with the bat:
- Confine it to a room by closing all doors and windows, except those leading outside, giving it a chance to leave.
- Be extremely careful when doing this to avoid being bitten.
- If it doesn't leave and you are unable to capture and release it, call us for help. Call (608) 255-2345 and ask for the Animal Services Officer.
Instructions on how to capture a bat.
What to do if Your Pet is Bitten or Exposed to Rabies
- Contact our Animal Services Officers by calling Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 if your pet was bitten or you suspect your pet was bitten by another animal. You should also call your veterinarian.
- Keep children and other people away from the pet until it is examined by a veterinarian.
- Your pet will be quarantined if it was exposed to a rabid animal. It must be isolated from other animals and have limited contact with humans. There are two types of quarantine for pets that have been exposed to a rabid animal:
- 60-day quarantine: A pet that has received all of its rabies shots is placed in a 60-day quarantine and will immediately get re-vaccinated for rabies.
- 6-month quarantine: A pet that has not received all of its rabies shots is placed in a 6-month quarantine. It will not be vaccinated until the 5th month. If the pet is suspected of having rabies, it is euthanized.
Information about rabies and how to prevent it.
What to Do if Your Pet Bites a Person or Pet
If your pet bites a person or pet, treat it like a car crash: exchange name and phone number with them. Report the bite to Animal Services at (608) 255-2345 (ask for an Animal Services Officer).
Dog Bite Prevention Tips
Most animal bites that are reported in Dane County are from dogs.