Injured by an Animal? Rabies and Animal Quarantine Law

Whenever a person is bitten, mauled, or otherwise attacked by a dog or other mammal, there is a risk of rabies. Rabies is one of the most serious diseases that you can contract. As the sections below will mention, there are certain steps you must take to treat your wound. Under no circumstances should a rabies bite be ignored or taken lightly, and it is very important to seek immediate medical attention at the first knowledge of the bite.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral disease that's transmitted by the saliva of a rabid animal when they bite a person. It can also be spread when a rabid animal scratches a person, or when their saliva comes into contact with any existing open wounds. Early symptoms of rabies may include a flu-like fever, weakness and headaches. Rabies is an extremely serious condition with a high fatality rate. This is one of the reasons that animal clinics and wellness organizations emphasize the need for animals, especially dogs and cats, to have their rabies vaccines up-to-date. Major animal retailer, such as PetSmart and Petco require documentation that shows that an animal has valid rabies vaccination before allowing them to stay to receive grooming services, such as baths, trimming, and the like.

What To Do If You're Injured by an Unfamiliar Dog

As a Dallas-Fort Worth personal injury attorney I know that, although dog bite cases involving rabies are rare, unprovoked attacks by dogs carry a much higher risk or rabies than a provoked attack (since dogs with rabies tend to be more aggressive and will bite without reason).

Regardless of the circumstances of your dog bite, it is always wise to take the following precautions:

  • Identify the animal so that they can be tested for rabies. If you know the owner, this step will be fairly straightforward. If the dog is roaming lose, then things get a little trickier. Contact animal control right away if you can so that they can catch the dog. If you're unable to catch or identify the dog, move on to the next steps with extra caution. 
  • Immediately clean your wound thoroughly with hot water, soap, and antiseptic.
  • Seek professional medical attention for your injuries – no matter how minor they appear – as soon as possible following the attack. Most doctors will also recommend a tetanus shot if you have not had one within the past ten years, as this will help protect you against other potential infections.

The Law Regarding Rabies Vaccinations in Texas

The Texas Health and Safety Code §826 mandates that all dogs, cats and ferrets must receive a rabies vaccination within four months of being born. After that, their ongoing rabies vaccination schedule is generally determined by the veterinarian who administered their initial vaccination.

Within the City of Fort Worth, local ordinances dictate that the animal must receive a booster 12 months after their initial vaccination, and then additional vaccinations at least once every three years. Specific laws and local ordinances will vary by location.

Quarantine of Animals That Attack Humans

Any domesticated animal that's bitten a person is required by Texas law to be placed under quarantine (overseen by the Local Rabies Control Authority). All dog bites – no matter how insignificant – must be reported in Texas.

Quarantine involves isolating the offending animal in absolute security for a ten day observation period to determine whether they pose a rabies risk. The cost of quarantine must be paid by the animal owner. The intent of quarantining an animal is not to place the animal in long-term solitary confinement. When the animal bite situation has been fully investigated and a conclusion has been brought by the city or judge, then the city will proceed to handling the animal as they deem fit, whether it is by returning the animal back to the original owner in certain conditions, or by putting the animal down if it is deemed too dangerous to be released to the public. Regardless of any of these choices, the well-being of the injured person, the dog owner, and the general public is what is considered.

Your Rights as a Dog Bite Victim in Texas

One of the most important reasons that people who have received bites or other types of injures go to a personal injury attorney is because they can provide them two very important things. First, through what is called a Letter of Protection (LOP), victims can seek medical attention without having to pay for it. LOPs are used to ensure that the victim seeks the required medical help while the case progresses and it is a way of ensuring a doctor or clinic that the medical bills that will be generated will be paid for when the settlement is finished. Second, people who have experienced animal injuries may be entitled to receive compensation for their medical expenses (as previously mentioned), lost wages as a result of time taken off to treat their injuries, pain and suffering, and more.

Visit this page to learn more about your rights as a dog bite victim in Texas, the compensation you're entitled to and how our dog bite injury lawyers can help. If you are unaware of what steps you can take if you have been injured by an animal, it would be idea to contact to contact us if you have any questions. Our experienced legal team can help with any accident-related question you may have.

(Want more information? Download my free book "How to Make a Successful Dog Bite Injury Claim In Texas" here.) 

To speak to a Fort Worth dog bite lawyer right away, contact 817-294-1900.

Mark A. Anderson
Board Certified Personal Injury Lawyer in Fort Worth, Texas