Dog that looks scaredEven if you own the animal or know the owner, it is important to report animal bites to us. It helps reduce disease and illness.


If You Get Bitten

  1. Wash the bite well with soap and water right away.
  2. See a health care provider as soon as possible.
  3. Report the bite to us.

How to Report A Bite

It is important to find the animal that bit. We need to know 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.

  1. 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 the officer to find it. Include what it looked like, where you saw it, and if you’ve seen the animal before.
  2. Dispatch will give your information to an Animal Services Officer who will follow-up with you about the bite.

You can also report the bite online.
Report an animal bite
Your report will be sent to an Animal Services Officer, who will follow up with you as soon as possible.

If You Were Bitten by a Domestic Animal

  • Treat all bites like a car crash: check to see if the bite broke the skin, and exchange name and phone number with the owner. Don’t wait to check the bite when you get home. It may be too late to find the owner and rabies shots may be needed.
  • Find out if the pet is up to date on rabies shots by asking the owner to call their vet.
    • If you don't have owner information, or the animal has left the area, an Animal Services Officer will help you try to capture or find the animal.
  • 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, it was not able to transmit the rabies virus when it bit you and you do not need rabies shots.
  • If the animal is not located or shows signs of rabies, you may need to see a doctor to get post exposure treatment.

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 because 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 rabies test is positive, you should receive rabies shots as soon as possible.
  • If the rabies test is negative, you were not exposed to rabies at the time of the bite.
  • 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

Most bats don’t have rabies. But you can’t tell just by looking at the bat. Bat bites are hard to detect because their teeth are small and bite marks can disappear quickly.

If you wake up to a bat in your room, or in the room of an unattended child, pet, or mentally impaired or intoxicated person, take action. It may not be apparent they were bitten.  

Safely capture the bat without harming it. Bats can hide very well and need to be captured for rabies testing. Don't set it free. If you capture a bat between 8am and 6pm, call Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and ask for an Animal Services Officer to pick up the bat and have it tested for rabies. If you capture a bat between 6pm and 8am, keep the bat in a safe and secure place and call dispatch after 8am for pick up.

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 so you don't get bitten.
  • If you are unable to  get the bat out, and it is between 8am and 6pm, call us for help. Call (608) 255-2345 and ask for an Animal Services Officer. If it is after working hours, keep it confined in a room without people or pets and contact dispatch at 8AM if you still see the bat in the room.

Here are instructions on how to capture a bat.


If Your Pet is Bitten or Exposed to Rabies

If bitten by another pet:

  • Treat all bites like a car crash: check to see if the bite broke the skin, and exchange name and phone number with the owner. Don’t wait to check the bite when you get home. It may be too late to find the owner and rabies shots may be needed.
  • Find out if the pet is up to date on rabies shots by asking the owner to call their vet.
  • Contact our Animal Services Officers by calling Dispatch at (608) 255-2345.
  • Call your veterinarian.

If bitten by a wild animal:

  • Have your pet seen  by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Your pet will be quarantined  if it was possibly exposed to a rabid animal. It must be isolated at home and kept away from other animals and have limited contact with humans.
  • There are two types of quarantines for pets that may have been exposed to a rabid animal:
    • 60-day quarantine:  A pet that has had all of its rabies shots is put in a 60-day quarantine.  It will immediately get re-vaccinated for rabies.
    • 6-month quarantine:  A pet that has not had all of its rabies shots is put in a 6-month quarantine. It will not be vaccinated until the 5th month. If the pet is suspected of having rabies, it will need to be tested.

Information about rabies and how to prevent it.


Dog Bite Prevention Tips

Many animal bites that are reported in Dane County are from dogs. Dogs can bite for a variety of reasons such as fear, physical ailments, and often accidentally while playing. In general, when a person is bitten by a dog, they know the dog about 70% of the time. Of those bites, 50% are usually unprovoked.

In 2020, we responded to 701 animal bites.

Learn how to prevent bites and how being a responsible dog owner can help reduce bites from happening.

  • Be aware of your environment. Scan outside and inside a home for dogs before entering.
  • Understand dog behavior. Use caution around barking dogs. Dogs may be protective of their owners. They can also be protective around children, their toys, and their food. Any dog can have a trigger, like a doorbell, a delivery person, etc.
  • Be careful of your behavior. Don’t stare directly at dogs. Don’t turn your back on it and don’t pet it unless you ask first. Talk to dogs in a calm voice.
  • Understand dog drives. Some dogs, like people, have dominant personalities. Others are fearful or have strong prey drives.
  • Preventing Dog Bites, American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Mouthing, Nipping and Biting in Puppies, ASPCA