If your pet is bitten by a wild animal or another animal, they are potentially at risk for exposure. If the wild animal can be caught or killed, the health department will perform testing on the head to confirm the Rabies status of the animal. If the animal is not available to be tested, and your pet is vaccinated, the sheriff will put your pet under quarantine. This quarantine can be at home or at an approved facility, is up to the sheriff and dependent on the facilities available. This quarantine usually lasts 10 days, but may be adjusted under different circumstances. If your animal is not vaccinated for Rabies and is bitten by a wild animal, again the sheriff becomes involved, but this time the pet can be euthanized and tested for rabies or put under a strict quarantine that can last up to 180 days. By law, we as veterinarians are required to report any suspected wild animal bites we see in pets.
It is definitely in your pets' best interest to be vaccinated against Rabies as soon as possible in life, which is at four months of age. Both cats and dogs should be vaccinated. The first Rabies vaccine is good for one year, and subsequent vaccines are good for three years in Colorado. In some states with a higher incidence of rabies the vaccine is only valid legally for one year. Here on the western slope, we do not have terrestrial Rabies- which is to say it is not an endemic disease in our walking wild animals. Bat Rabies does exist, however. On the eastern slope, terrestrial Rabies is a concern. Many of you may remember the Rabies outbreak near Black Forest last summer which affected several people and animals, and was eventually linked to a horse that had been bitten by a skunk. In conclusion, protect your pets, use caution around wild animals, and contact us if you have any questions or concerns. You can also watch the following video produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association for more information.