In 2013, 569 bites and possible Rabies exposures were reported to Kalamazoo County Animal Services. While most animals that bite will not have Rabies, it is still a possibility. Animal Services works very hard to ensure that this fatal disease does not spread.
Not all animals that bite are aggressive. Some animals are scared, irritated, injured, sick, and elderly, or have other reasons which cause them to react. In some cases, bites can happen accidentally and be no fault of the animal or its victim.
Animal Services investigates bites, scratches or rabies exposures when the victim is human or a domestic animal such as a pet dog or cat. When a bite occurs to a human or domestic animal, a Quarantine must be placed on the animal which caused the injury or exposure. Quarantine is a term used for a 10-day observation period in which the animal that caused a Rabies exposure is monitored closely to ensure the victim is not at risk for Rabies. While the word Quarantine sounds scary, it's a very simple procedure, and ensures that Public Health is not at risk for Rabies.
If you or someone you know has been bitten or scratched by an animal, or has an animal that has bitten or scratched, and you aren't sure what to do, please call Animal Services and ask us. We can always advise you if a Quarantine is needed or not.
Q. What is a Rabies Exposure?
A. An exposure occurs if a person or a domestic animal is bitten by a dog, cat, bat or some wild animals such as raccoons or woodchucks (Complete list attached). A cat scratch can also be an exposure; however this is very unlikely to result in Rabies. A sleeping, disabled or handicapped person or domestic animal that was in a room with a bat is also an exposure to Rabies.
Q. Do all animals that bite have Rabies?
A. No. Actually, most don't.
Q. What does Animal Services do when a dog or cat bites a person?
A. Animal Services does what is called a Quarantine. A Quarantine is a 10-day observation period, where the animal is monitored closely to ensure that it doesn't have rabies. Quarantines can be done at the Animal Owners own home, the Shelter, or another location as decided between the Animal Owner and the Animal Services Officer.
Q. Does Animal Services automatically euthanize (put to sleep) pets that bite?
A. No. This decision is made between the animal owner and the officer. Sometimes, in rare circumstances, if the bite was severe or if the pet has bitten more than once and has a history of aggression, the decision may be made by a Judge in court. In nearly all cases, this decision is made by the animal owner.
Q. What should I do if my animal has bitten someone or another person's pet?
A. Firstly, it is always good to make sure the other person or animal is OK. The victim may need medical attention. The second thing you should do is call Animal Services. We can assist you in making the report, explain the next steps, and help you understand the legal process and explain your rights, and the victims' rights, if needed. You should not euthanize your pet until it has been determined whether or not your pet may have Rabies. You should not give your pet away, or take your pet somewhere else until Animal Services has been able to observe the pet, and talk to you about your Quarantine options.
Q. What should I do if I was bitten by an animal, or exposed to Rabies?
A. First, see a doctor and determine if the injury needs medical attention. Animal bites, especially cat bites and scratches, can become infected very quickly, and lead to serious complications. Second, call Animal Services and report the injury. If you know where the animal is, or where it lives, please let us know. If the animal is wild or stray, we need to know what type of animal, what it looked like, and the last area it was seen.
Q. Do Rabies vaccinated animals need to be Quarantined?
A. Yes. Like other vaccines, Rabies vaccinations are preventative, but do not guarantee that the animal will not get Rabies. Quarantines are required, regardless of Rabies vaccination history.
Q. What should I do if an Animal Services Officer comes to my house?
A. Please be cooperative. Animal Services Officers (ASOs) are not there to harass or accuse you. If an ASO comes to your home, they are conducting an investigation, and would like to speak with you in regard to an animal related matter.
Animal Services & Enforcement
2500 Lake Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49048
Director: Steve Lawrence
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri
8am to 1pm, 2pm to 4:30pm
8am to 1pm, 2pm to 7pm
Kennel Closed 12:30pm-2pm Daily
Sat, Sun and Holidays