Vaccinated, Unvaccinated, or Not Currently Vaccinated?
Before we get into all the different rules and regulations, we need to define some terms. Vaccinated and unvaccinated are pretty self-explanatory, but you might be scratching your head over the difference between unvaccinated and not currently vaccinated (I even got them backwards while I was writing this paragraph).
Fortunately it’s actually pretty simple: an animal who currently has an up-to-date rabies vaccine is considered vaccinated. An animal who has previously received a now out-of-date rabies vaccination is considered not currently vaccinated (remember that at CAH your dog’s first rabies vaccination will last for one year, and all future boosters will last for three years - we only administer one-year vaccinations for cats). An animal who has never received a rabies vaccination, or received their first vaccination less than 28 days before the bite occurred, is considered unvaccinated. Easy, right?
Scraps at the Dog Park
We’ll start with what to do if a domestic animal bites another domestic animal. Maybe your pup got a little too close to an unfriendly stranger at the dog park, or maybe playtime with a housemate got a little too rough. If your pet bites or is bitten by a domestic animal belonging to another person, get their information, and give them yours. If your pet is bitten by another domestic animal who is identifiable, the biting animal is quarantined within the owner’s home for 10 days. If the other animal is not identifiable, your poor pet ends up in quarantine for 45 days! They don’t want that, and we’re sure you don’t either.
If your animal happens to be the biter they’ll have to go into a 10 day quarantine. This means they should be kept inside your home, should not have any contact with other people or animals, and should only be taken out on-leash to use the bathroom. The word quarantine sounds scary (and might bring back some unpleasant memories of early 2020), but fear not! While dog bites and quarantines do need to be reported to the town, you aren’t in any trouble and no punitive measures are taken. You won’t be fined, your dog won’t be taken away, and you have nothing else to worry about. The only purpose of these quarantines is to prevent the possible spread of rabies while your dog is monitored for symptoms.
Tussles in the Woods
If your pet gets bitten or scratched by a wild animal while out for a walk, or ends up with a wound of unknown origin, the rules are a bit different (and unfortunately a bit stricter). If your pet is vaccinated or not currently vaccinated and they get scraped up in the woods, you should bring them in as soon as possible to have their rabies vaccine boostered - this is the case even if your pet is currently up-to-date. After this your pet will need to go into a 45 day quarantine to monitor for rabies symptoms. If your pet is happy and healthy at the end of this period, no further action is taken.
If your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal or receives a wound of unknown origin and they’re unvaccinated they should also be vaccinated as soon as possible, after which they’ll have to go into a four month quarantine. If your unvaccinated pet had contact with a wild animal that is confirmed to have been rabid by a state laboratory, they’ll need to spend the first 3 months of this period in full isolation at an approved animal hospital, kennel, or livestock quarantine facility. Fortunately this is easily avoided by vaccinating your pet before it becomes necessary!
So there you have it! Hopefully this post has answered your questions, and has helped to make the prospect of an animal bite a little less scary. We were mostly focused on the protocols and the paperwork, but that does leave off one of the most important pieces of advice: if your pet ends up with a bite or a scratch from any source, you should always have them checked out. We can clean up the wound, make sure it’s healing properly, help prevent infection, and even give your pet some pain meds if they need them.
As always, we try to cover what we can in these blogs, but we’re sure we didn’t get to everything! If you’ve got any other questions we’re always happy to chat, and if you do ever find yourself dealing with animal bite just give us a call and we’ll be glad to help you through it- but fingers crossed you won’t have to make that call any time soon!