Dog Bite Information and Prevention

Dog Bite Information and Prevention

One of the primary goals of Animal Care and Control is to protect people and animals from dangerous dogs. Dangerous dogs create unstable and unsafe neighborhoods, frighten residents, and cause harm to victims of their bites or attacks. We provide several services in response to dangerous dogs. These include:

  • Responding to and investigating vicious animal reports
  • Investigating animal bites
  • Addressing stray dog problems
  • Verifying compliance of mandatory rabies vaccination and pet licensing laws
  • Working collaboratively with law enforcement, fire, and other government agencies as a critical component in the community’s public safety plan
  • Petitioning to declare offending dogs as Potentially Dangerous or Vicious, thereby obtaining restrictions around the keeping of those animals

Report dog bites in the unincorporated area

Dog bites should be reported to Imperial County Animal Care and Control if you live within the unincorporated area of Imperial County. An officer will respond to take a bite report and contact the other party (if known) to assess the situation and ensure that the animal that bit is properly quarantined. Additionally, our officer will notify Public Health.

In the event that the bite victim is transported to the hospital, a bite complaint should be made as soon as possible after treatment is complete.

Protecting Our Community, Quarantine and Rabies

The County of Imperial and the State of California requires that a domestic animal involved in a bite to a person, or scratch caused by teeth, be quarantined for ten (10) days. The quarantine requires the animal to be confined and isolated away from all animals and persons. Depending on a variety of factors, the quarantine may be carried out at the owner's premises, at a local animal control agency, or a private boarding facility approved by the local health officer. Under the guidance of the County health officer, staff will observe and/or assesses the health of the animal at both the beginning and at the end of the quarantine period to verify that the animal is not displaying symptoms of rabies. If the animal remains healthy for the 10-day period, it could not have been shedding the rabies virus in its saliva at the time of the bite and there has not been a rabies exposure for the victim.

What types of wild animals get rabies?

Any mammal can get rabies. The most common wild animals that could carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes. Domestic animals can also carry rabies; these include cats, cattle, and dogs.

How can I tell if an animal has rabies?

Rabies can be confirmed only in a laboratory. You cannot tell if a bat or other wild animal has rabies just by looking at it. However, any bat that is active by day, is found in a place where bat are not usually seen (for example in rooms in your home), or is unable to fly, is more likely then others to be rabid.

​What should I do if I come in contact with a wild animal that may have rabies?

If a wild animal bites you or infectious material (such as saliva) from an animal gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound wash the affected area very well with soap and water and get medical attention immediately!

Bats have small teeth that may leave marks that are not easily seen, there are situations in which you should seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite. For example, if you awaken and find a bat in your room, see a bat in the room with an unattended child, or see a bat near someone who is mentally impaired or intoxicated, seek medical advice and have the bat tested. Never handle a bat!!

What should I do if I find a wild animal in my home/property?

If you see an animal in your home and you are sure no human or pet has been exposed to it, confine the animal to a room by closing all doors and windows leading out of the room except those to the outside to encourage the animal to leave on its own.

If the animal does not leave or if you are not sure if a human or pet has been exposed to the animal, leave the animal alone and contact Imperial County Animal Control for assistance at (442) 265-2655.

The following are things people can do to protect their pets from rabies
  • Individuals should visit their veterinarian with their pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, and dogs.
  • People should maintain control of their pets by keeping cats indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Pets should be spayed or neutered to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
  • People should contact Imperial County Animal Control to remove all stray and wild animals from their neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill. In Imperial County, bats have tested positive for rabies, making it an area considered high-risk for rabies. Rabies among domestic animals in Imperial County is rare.
How do people get rabies?

People usually get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal an animal with rabies. It is also possible, but rare, that people may get rabies if infectious material from a rabid animal, such as saliva, gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound.

Which animals get rabies?

The most common wild animals that could carry rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes and coyotes. Domestic animals can also carry rabies; these include cats, cattle, and dogs. Rabies can only be confirmed through a laboratory test.

What should a person do if bitten by an animal?
  • In Imperial County, the most likely rabies carriers are those animals mentioned above.
  • If bitten, immediately wash the bitten area very well with soap and water to minimize the chances for infection.
  • Seek medical attention immediately with your doctor.
  • Your doctor will care for the wound and judge the risk for rabies exposure.
The following information will help your doctor judge your risk for rabies:
  • Knowing where the incident took place
  • The type of animal that was involved
  • How the exposure occurred (provoked or unprovoked)
  • If the animal was vaccinated against rabies or not
  • Whether the animal can be safely captured and tested for rabies

Contact Imperial County Animal Control at (442) 265-2655 to report the animal that did the biting as soon as possible.

How soon after an exposure should a person seek medical attention?

Medical attention should be obtained as soon as possible after an exposure. There have been no cases of someone developing rabies when treatment was given soon and appropriately after an exposure. People exposed to rabies may receive postexposure prophylaxix or PEP. In the United States, PEP consists of a regimen of one dose of immune globulin and four doses of rabies vaccine over a 28-day period. Animals may need to be placed in quarantine or tested for possible rabies.

Last modified 02/13/2024 at 3:36 PM