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Frequently Asked Questions - Dogs & Cats

Find out how to proceed when your pet bites someone, what happens if your pet is not vaccinated, and discover what a 10-day quarantine involves.

 

 



brown bulletpointF.A.Q. - Dog & Cat Questions and Answers

 

Q. What happens if my dog or cat bites someone?
A. Wisconsin State Law 95.21 requires that any dog or cat, which bites a person, be quarantined for ten days so that it can be observed for signs of rabies. The requirements of the quarantine vary depending on whether the animal is current on its rabies immunizations.
 
Q. What if my dog or cat is unvaccinated for rabies? 
A. If an unvaccinated dog or cat bites someone, an officer will order that the animal be quarantined for a period of at least 10 days after the bite. The "officer" can be a public health official, a law enforcement officer, a DNR game warden or a humane officer.
Within 24 hours after the quarantine order is issued, the unvaccinated dog or cat must be delivered to an isolation facility. (e.g. veterinarian clinic, humane society shelter, animal pound) for the 10-day observation period.
During the 10-day quarantine, the dog or cat will be held under strict isolation at the facility and examined by a licensed veterinarian on the first day, the last day and one intervening day of the observation period.
The quarantine must be released after the veterinarian certifies that the animal has exhibited no signs of rabies during the 10-day quarantine period.
The veterinarian may extend the quarantine if clinical signs warrant the extension, however, this rarely occurs.
After the quarantine is released, the animal can be vaccinated against rabies. Rabies vaccinations are not to be administered during the quarantine period.
In the event the animal under quarantine exhibits signs of rabies, state statute requires that the animal be humanely killed and the brain submitted to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for rabies testing.
The owner of the animal is responsible for all expenses incurred in connection with the quarantine.
 
Q.What if my dog or cat is current on the rabies vaccination?
A. If a vaccinated dog or cat, as shown by a valid rabies certificate, bites someone, an officer will order the animal quarantined for a period of a least 10 days after the bite. The "officer" can be a public health official, a law enforcement officer, a DNR game warden or a humane officer.
Vaccinated dogs and cats may be quarantined on the premises of the owner. Vaccinated dogs and cats may be quarantined on the premises of the owner if the animal is kept in an escape-proof enclosure or in the home and walked on a leash by a responsible adult. If quarantine cannot be adequately maintained on the premises of the owner, an officer may order a vaccinated dog or cat to be quarantined at an isolation facility.
During the 10-day quarantine, a licensed veterinarian must examine the dog or cat on the first day, the last day and one intervening day of the observation period. This is the only time that the animal may leave the owner’s premises.
If the animal exhibits signs of illness or a change in behavior, it is crucial that the owner notify the veterinarian immediately.
The quarantine may be released if the veterinarian certifies that the animal has exhibited no signs of rabies during the 10-day quarantine period.
The veterinarian may extend the quarantine if clinical signs warrant the extension, however, this rarely occurs.
In the unlikely event the animal under quarantine exhibits signs of rabies, state statute requires that the animal be humanely killed and the brain submitted to the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for rabies testing.
The owner of the animal is responsible for all expenses incurred in connection with the quarantine.
 
Q. Why is the 10-day quarantine and observation period necessary?
A. Rabies is a fatal viral infection of the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans. It is usually transmitted through the bite of a animal that has the viral in its saliva, or more rarely by contamination of an open cut or mucous membrane (eyes, nostrils or mouth) with saliva of a rabid animal.
When a healthy dog or cat bites someone, there is a remote possibility that the animal could be in the infectious phase of the disease without showing signs of rabies. In these rare cases, the animal will develop recognizable signs of rabies within a few days, allowing time to treat the bite victim for rabies exposure.
The 10-day quarantine period ensures that the dog or cat remains available for observation of sins of rabies. If the animal remains healthy during the 10 days, it’s an indication that the animal did not have the rabies virus in is saliva at the time of the bite and the victim does not have to receive an expensive and unpleasant series of vaccinations to prevent rabies. It is important that the animal be strictly confined at all times so that it cannot run away, be injured or infected by another animal.
The 10-day confinement and observation period for dogs and cats has withstood the test of time as a way to prevent human rabies. The quarantine period eliminates the need to destroy healthy pets to test their brains for the rabies virus.
 
Q. What if I fail to comply with the quarantine requirements?
A. Wisconsin State Statute 95.21(10)(b) provides for a fine of $100 to 1000 or 60 days imprisonment, or both, for failure to comply with a quarantine order.

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