What is the purpose of a Rock County Animal Bite Order?
A Rock County Animal Bite Order is a legal order that requires the quarantine of your pet (dog, cat or ferret) if it is suspected of biting or scratching a human. Wisconsin Statute 95.21 requires that the biting/scratching animal be quarantined for ten days to determine if it is possible that a rabies virus transmission occured between the suspected animal and human victim. If the animal does not exhibit rabies symptoms during the quarantine period this rules out the possibility of rabies transmission. This will also help to avoid costly and painful rabies treatment for the victim.
Why is the ten day quarantine necessary?
Rabies control laws help to prevent the spread of the deadly rabies virus to humans and other animals. Although the possibility of transmission of rabies to a human from a healthy pet is remote in the United States, its high fatality rate warrants the necessity for control. Other countries without proper rabies control experience a high number of human deaths from the disease. If rabies control were eliminated because of the low incidence among humans and domestic animals, the disease would spread into a possible epidemic. Rabies is endemic in nature and will inevitably spread into our societies if not properly controlled. The ten day quarantine has stood the test of time as a way to prevent human rabies. This also avoids the need to destroy somebody's pet in order to do a laboratory test for the rabies virus in the animal's brain.
What are the requirements if my pet is currently vaccinated against rabies?
If your pet is current on its rabies vaccination it must be immediately quarantined to prevent other exposures to humans or animals. Currently vaccinated pets may be quarantined at home, provided the owner can provide an escape proof enclosure or home and walked on a leash by a responsible adult when taken outside. Contact with other humans or animals must be avoided. Only neccesary contact to care for the animal is permitted. Within 24 hours of the incident or issuance of the order, the animal must be taken to a veterinarian for an examination for rabies symptoms. The animal must be also examined on the tenth day of the quarantine and one intervening day. If the animal does not exhibit signs of rabies during the ten day period it will be revaccinated against rabies and released from the quarantine. Veterinarians may extend the quarantine if clincal signs warrant. In the unlikely event the animal does exhibit signs of rabies, state statutes require that the animal be humanely killed and sent for rabies testing to a certified laboratory. This is neccesary to protect the exposed human from rabies. All expenses due to the quarantine are the responsibility of the pet owner.
What are the requirements if my pet is not currently vaccinated against rabies?
The requirements for a pet not currently vaccinated against rabies are the same as outlined above for a vaccinated animal, except the animal must be quarantined for the ten day observation period at an approved isolation facility (veterinary clinic, humane society, pound). All rules outlined for a vaccinated pet apply for an unvaccinated one. It is important to keep your pet vaccinated not only to protect it, but also to avoid the extra expenses associated with boarding it at an isolation facility and to prevent your pet from being separated from you for ten days.
What are the consequences of not complying with the Animal Bite Order?
As outlined in the Wisconsin Statute 95.21, failure to comply with an Animal Bite Order shall result in a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1000 or imprisonment not more than 60 days or both. The animal may also be impounded and all expenses due to the impoundment and quarantine will be the responsibility of the owner.
What if my pet is suspected of being exposed to a rabid animal?
If your pet is suspected of being exposed to a rabid animal, it may be ordered to undergo a 60 day quarantine if currently vaccinated against rabies or a 180 day quarantine if not currently vaccinated against rabies. This quarantine is allowed to be conducted in the owner's home if the owner can provide an isolation area that will prevent the exposure to other animals or humans. Only contact with humans neccesary to care for the animals is allowed. The Rock County Health Deparment or the State of Wisconsin will periodically check the quarantine process to ensure it is being done properly. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in an order to humanely destroy the animal and laboratory testing for rabies. This quarantine is neccesary to protect the spread of rabies to humans or other animals.