Animal Bite Information

Rabies is currently an established epidemic in Prince William County. By state and local laws, to prevent the spread of rabies, all potential exposures to this virus are required to be reported to either the Police Department's Animal Control Bureau or the Health Department.

Definition of Human Exposure: Any bite, scratch, or other situation whereby saliva or central nervous system (CNS) tissue of a potentially rabid animal enters an open, flesh wound, or has contact with mucous membrane by entering the eye, mouth, or nose.

Definition of Animal Exposure: Any circumstance whereby saliva or central nervous system tissue from a rabid or potentially rabid animal did have or could have had direct contact with mucous membrane or a break in the skin of a domestic animal.

The following procedures shall be taken to properly quarantine or test animals involved in exposures.

Domestic Dogs and Cats with a Valid Rabies Vaccination

The responding animal control officer or police officer investigating the incident shall examine the animal and determine the quarantine location.

  • The location must prevent accidental or intentional contact between the offending animal and other animals or persons not part of the household.
  • The location can be within the owner's/custodian's home, garage, or outbuilding.

After the responding officer has determined the quarantine location, the location cannot be changed without the permission of the health department.

Quarantines are for a period of ten (10) days from date of exposure.

The quarantine of an unvaccinated dog or cat at the Prince William County Animal Shelter will be at the owner's expense.

Dogs and Cats Without Valid Rabies Vaccinations

Any dog or cat not having a valid rabies vaccination will be quarantined at the Prince William County Animal Shelter at the expense of the animal owner/custodian.

Exceptions to full quarantine at the animal shelter are:

  • Domestic puppy or kitten under the age of four (4) months, and the victim is a member of the family and household where the incident occurred.
  • The owner/custodian is able to provide proof of a valid rabies vaccination and ensure a proper quarantine location.
  • The health director or his designee determines the quarantine location can be changed.

The quarantine is effective through midnight of the tenth (10th) day. The owner/custodian may redeem the animal on the eleventh (11th) day.

Animals with Hooves (Horses, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cows, etc.)

Hoofed animals shall be kept separated from other animals at the location of the incident, or on the owner's/custodian's property until the health department director determines a disposition.

Wild Animals

There is no known quarantine period for wild animals. All wild animals having contact with a person or domestic animal shall be submitted for rabies testing.

There are six (6) wild animals that are known carriers of rabies and must be treated as such:

  • Bats
  • Skunks
  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Ground Hogs
  • Opossums

Bats found in a sleeping room or other living space where a person has been concurrently with the bat must be tested for rabies, whether there was actual contact with the animal or not.

Other Warm-Blooded Animals

When there has been an exposure from animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, rats, ferrets, or hybrid wolves, the animal will initially be quarantined at the County Animal Shelter until a determination has been made by the health director whether the animal is to be tested or released from quarantine.

The quarantine at the Animal Shelter shall be at no expense to the animal owner/custodian.

Birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other feathered or cold-blooded animals

These do not contract rabies and require no exposure report or quarantine.

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