Dog that looks scared

Even if you own the animal or you know the owner, it’s important to report all animal bites to us. We’ll help you figure out the risk for rabies or other illnesses from the bite.


If You or Your Pet Were Bitten

  1. Wash the bite well with soap and water right away.
  2. If you were injured, see a health care provider as soon as possible. Here are some tips if you don’t have insurance.
  3. If your pet was injured, they should see their veterinarian as soon as possible.
  4. Report the bite to us.

How to Report A Bite

It is important to find the animal that bit you or your pet. We need to know if it has been vaccinated for rabies or has rabies.

Call Dispatch at (608) 255-2345 and say you are calling to report an animal bite.

  1. If you don't know the animal's owner, or it was a stray or wild animal, tell them as much as you can to help us find it. Include what it looked like, where you saw it, and if you’ve seen the animal before.
  2. The dispatcher will give your information to an Animal Services Officer who will follow-up with you about the bite.

You can also report the bite online.

Report an animal bite

Your report will be sent to an Animal Services Officer who will follow up with you as soon as possible.

If You or Your Pet Were Bitten by a Dog or Cat

  • Check to see if the bite broke the skin before the owner leaves. Don’t wait to check until you get home.
  • Ask the owner to call their vet to find out if the pet is up to date on rabies shots.
  • Exchange names and phone numbers with the pet’s owner.
  • Any dog or cat that bites will be quarantined for 10 days and checked by a vet for signs of rabies.
  • If there are no signs of rabies after 10 days, you and/or your pet do not need post exposure rabies shots.
  • If you can’t find the animal that bit you, or it shows signs of rabies, you need to see a healthcare provider for treatment.

If You Were Bitten by a Wild Animal

  • Try to capture the animal. Be careful so it doesn’t bite you again.
  • We may be able to help capture it. Call (608) 255-2345 and ask for Animal Services. Our officers are on duty from 8:00 am - 6:00 pm seven days a week.
  • If you need to kill the animal, don’t damage the head. We will send the animal to a lab for rabies testing. The lab uses the head for the rabies test. Keep the animal cool until we can pick it up.
  • If the rabies test is positive, you should get rabies shots as soon as possible.
  • If the rabies test is negative, you did not get rabies from the bite.
  • If the animal wasn’t captured, or if the rabies test was indeterminate (uncertain), talk to a healthcare provider. You may need rabies shots as soon as possible.

*What you should know about bats

Bat bites are hard to see because their teeth are small and bite marks can disappear quickly.

DO NOT set a bat free if you find it:

  • In your room when you wake up
  • In your child’s room when they are alone
  • In a room with your pet
  • In the room with a mentally impaired or intoxicated person
  1. Safely capture the bat. It needs to be tested for rabies. DO NOT SET IT FREE.
  2. Between 8:00 am - 6:00 pm, call (608) 255-2345 and ask for Animal Services. We will pick up the bat and have it tested.
  3. Between 6:00 pm - 8:00 am, capture the bat and keep it in a safe place. Call us after 8:00 am the next day for pick up and testing.

If you have a bat in your home and are SURE that no people or pets have come in contact with it:

  1. Confine it to a room. Close all doors and windows except those that lead outside. This will give it a chance to leave.
  2. Be careful so you don’t get bitten.
  3. If you can’t get the bat out:
    1. Between 8:00 am - 6:00 pm, call (608) 255-2345 and ask for Animal Services. We will help you get the bat out.
    2. Between 6:00 pm - 8:00 am, keep it in a room without people or pets. Call us at 8:00 am if the bat is still in the room. We will help you get the bat out.

If Your Pet Was Bitten by a Wild Animal

  • Try to capture the animal. Be careful so it doesn’t bite again.
  • We may be able to help capture it. Call (608) 255-2345 and ask for Animal Services. Our officers are on duty from 8:00 am - 6:00 pm seven days a week.
  • If you need to kill the animal, don’t damage the head. We will send the animal to a lab for rabies testing. The lab uses the head for the rabies test. Keep the animal cool until we can pick it up.
  • Your pet  needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • You may need to quarantine your pet. It must be kept at home and away from other animals and have limited contact with humans.
  • There are two types of quarantine for pets that may have been exposed to rabies:
    • 60-day quarantine: If you pet has had its rabies shots, it will be in a 60-day quarantine. It will immediately get an additional rabies shot.
    • 6-month quarantine: If you pet has not had its rabies shots it will be in a 6-month quarantine. It will get an additional rabies shot in the 5th month of quarantine. Your pet will need to be tested if the vet thinks it has rabies.

Protect Yourself and Your Pets from Rabies

Rabies vaccines:

  • You don’t need rabies shots unless you’re exposed to rabies from a bite or scratch.
  • Getting dogs and cats vaccinated is their best protection against rabies. When they are vaccinated, they can’t give rabies to you or other animals.
    • Dogs and cats should be vaccinated when they are five months old, a year later, and then every one to three years for the rest of their life.
    • In Wisconsin, all dogs are required to be vaccinated and in Madison, cats must also be vaccinated.

You and your pets should avoid:

Keep wild animals out of your home:

  • Block openings in your house that animals can get through
  • Close lids tightly on garbage cans so animals are not attracted to them

Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

In 2021, we responded to 856 animal bites. Many of these were dog bites.

Dogs can bite for a variety of reasons:

  • Being afraid
  • Being sick or injured
  • By accident while playing

Learn how to prevent dog bites.

Resources: