When a Dog Bites
What to do and Why it´s Important
Since the beginning of 2017, Animal Services of Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) has responded to over 100 animal bite incidents. The vast majority of these bites are from dogs. Recently, a string of incidents has involved dogs that have required follow-up to identify the dog and its owner.
Most of the unidentified dog bite incidents we handle involve a dog owner who is out walking their dog and a bite victim who may have be out walking, jogging, or biking and neither party exchanges contact information.
Residents should think of dog bite incidents like auto accidents – exchange information, provide medical attention, and report the bite to Animal Services,” say Patrick Comfert, Animal Services Leadworker for PHMDC.
Minimally, a victim needs to know if the dog is up to date on its rabies vaccine. Bites can also cause infections that require antibiotic treatment. When information isn’t exchanged after a bite, or the owner isn’t present, the incident is likely to trigger a media advisory asking the community to help us identify the dog and owner. If the dog isn’t found, victims may ultimately require a series of costly rabies vaccinations.
In 2016, Animal Services followed up on 411 dog bites. “As the weather becomes milder, reports of dog bites tend to increase. Nearly half of Dane County households own a dog, so it’s important that all residents know how to respond in the event of a bite,” says Comfert.
To report a dog bite, call Police and Fire Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and say you are calling to report an animal bite. Dispatch will take your information and relay it to an Animal Services Officer for follow up action. Animal Services is responsible for enforcing the animal bite quarantine laws and ensuring that dogs and cats that bite people were not contagious for rabies at the time of the bite.
There are many specific things you can do to help prevent dog bites, as a dog owner, a parent or just as a pedestrian. When dog owners let their pets run at large or leave them tied up and unattended in a public place, they increase the chances of a dog bite incident.
- Amy Vieth, 608-242-6507, email@example.com