Animal Bites

Animal Control Supervisor: Trinity Smith
Phone: (252) 637-4606
Fax: (252) 633-0925


An "animal bite" report must be filled out when ANY animal breaks the skin of ANY human by using its teeth or toenails. It is NOT a statement of the animals behavior or of a person's negligence or liability. It IS a Public Health issue relating to the prevention of a fatal disease, Rabies. Animal/Rabies Control Officers DO NOT want to take your pet, nor are they going to kill it just because it bit someone.Animal Rabies Control Officers are going to require that the animal be quarantined for 10 days (usually at the owners home), and they are going to require that the animal be vaccinated at the end of the 10 days if it is not currently vaccinated at the time of the incident. The ONLY test for rabies means the animal must be killed and the brain tissue tested for presence of the virus. That is why we require the 10 day quarantine period. If the animal remains healthy for the 10 days it cannot have been shedding the rabies virus in its saliva at the time of the scratch or bite. Most bites are accidental/provoked. Someone did something to antagonize the animal. Most bites occur at home, within the family and are directly attributable to a human being's actions. You stepped on your cat's tail or your dog jumped up to get the Frisbee and caught your hand instead. Other bites are the result of improper socialization or training. This does not excuse the fact that the dog bit, but it does explain why. Fear, territorialism, possessiveness can all result in a bite response. Unaltered (sexually intact) animals are more likely to bite than those that are spayed or neutered.

North Carolina law NCGS 130A-196 requires that all animal bites be reported even if you are bitten by your OWN pet, whether or not you went to the doctor, whether or not it was an accident. If you have any questions regarding animal bites or rabies contact your local health department or Rabies Control Officer for your area. Public Health is everyone's responsibility. YOU are the public!


Why do I have to report that my own dog/cat bit me?
To protect not only your own health, but other persons as well by assuring that your pet remains healthy for ten days after the incident.

Will I get my friends "in trouble" if I report that their pet bit/scratched me?
No. You will assure the safety of yourself and others that may come in contact with the pet by knowing that it was quarantined for 10 days and properly vaccinated.

Why is my pet put under a "quarantine" even if it is currently vaccinated?
By observing the animal for 10 days we are assured that the pet could not have been shedding the rabies virus in its saliva at the time of the bite or scratch. No vaccine is 100% effective 100% of the time.

Why should significant scratches also be reported?
Many animals lick their feet, especially cats; and dogs frequently lay with their heads (mouths) on their feet, subsequently putting potentially infective saliva in direct contact with their toenails.

Are you going to take my dog/cat away from me?
Not usually. In most cases we will allow you to quarantine your pet at home if you have a secure area for your dog or if you are willing to keep your cat in the house for the 10 days. If you cannot provide secure quarantine we may require that you board your pet at your veterinarians or at the animal shelter at your own expense. You may reclaim your pet at the end of the 10 day period.

If it was an "accident" why should I report it?
Most bites/scratches ARE accidental. Such as stepping on your cats tail, or playing too rough with your dog. Other bites are generally "provoked". In the dog's point of view you teased, scared, threatened, surprised, interrupted or in some other way caused a fear response. An animal bite is not a statement of the dog's viciousness; it usually indicates that the dog has not been properly socialized or trained. The majority of animals that bite are sexually intact. Spay or neuter your pets!

Why should my pet be vaccinated if it never goes out?
Even so-called "house dogs" go out to use the bathroom and house cats can escape! In the length of time it takes for the dog to potty, it could come in contact with a sick bat or the cat could surprise a raccoon or other wild animal.

How can I know if my dog/cat may have rabies?
Only a laboratory test of the animals brain tissue can definitely diagnose Rabies Virus.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. Early signs are behavioral and may include hiding, refusal to interact with family members, in general just not "feeling good"; other symptoms may be inability to walk or stand, excessive salivation (due to throat and jaw muscles becoming paralyzed) and finally convulsions and/or excessively aggressive behavior.

How much is a rabies vaccination and where can I get one for my pet?
In this area, vaccination fees range from $10.00 to $20.00 and only a licensed veterinarian or a Certified Rabies Vaccinator can administer the vaccine. Craven Pamlico Animal Services Center has Certified Rabies Vaccinators on staff that can administer a one-year vaccine only. The cost is $10.00. Three-year vaccines may be administered by a licensed veterinarian only.

If I do not get a rabies vaccinations for my pet, what can happen?
Failure to provide proof of rabies vaccination is a criminal offense, punishable under NCGS 130A-185. Court costs, plus other fines can be leveed; other local penalties may also apply.

If your pet does get rabies and subsequently exposes you or someone else to the virus, it can cost thousands of dollars to treat that person. You could also be subject to civil prosecution by the victims.

What should I do if I am bitten/scratched and why?
Wash the wound with soap and water for 15 minutes. Yes, that is a long time but, it has been proven to be effective in removing the rabies virus.

Notify your family physician and local Health Department providing information as to the owner of the animal, description of the animal and its location.

If you don't, you could get rabies!



Emergency Notification Signup