Animal Bites

Domestic Animal Bite Reporting

State Rabies Law requires all animal bites be reported to the local Animal Control Officer (ACO)/ Animal Inspector for follow-up. If you are bitten by a dog or a cat, make sure to get the owner's information, animal information and the rabies vaccination status of the animal. Regardless of vaccination status, the biting animal will be issued a state mandated 10-day quarantine. The location of the quarantine is at the discretion of the ACO. Most quarantines take place in the animals own home. The ACO/ Animal Inspector will follow up with a health check at the end of 10 days. If the animal is healthy, the animal could not have transmitted the rabies virus to the victim and post exposure rabies treatment is not necessary. If the biting animal is not identified and issued the 10-day quarantine, the victim must move forward with post exposure rabies treatment.

These quarantines are NOT issued for punishment of any animal, they are issued for Public Heath purposes only.

Instructions for 10-Day Home Quarantine

10-Day Animal Quarantine and Information

Massachusetts State Law requires a 10-Day rabies quarantine for any dog, cat or other domesticated mammal which bites or scratches a human or other animal, regardless of vaccination status. This measure is designed to protect both humans and animals from the rabies virus, a preventable but fatal disease to both humans and animals. For more information, please contact the Massachusetts Bureau of Animal Health at (617) 626-1786 or the Local Animal Inspector at (617) 972-6446.


Instructions For Home Quarantine

1) Your home may serve as the facility used for confinement and shall ensure an escape proof environment subject to unannounced, periodic spot checks by the Animal Control Officer/ Animal Inspector. The animal shall be confined inside your home and CANNOT be left outside on a chain or left inside a fenced yard unattended.

2) The animal shall not leave the quarantine premise for any reason. The animal shall not have contact with humans or animals for the 10-day period except the designated primary caretaker.

3) At the first signs of illness, the owner shall notify the Animal Control Officer/ Animal Inspector. Symptoms to watch for include fever, loss of appetite, excessive irritability, unusual vocalization, change in behavior, restlessness, trouble walking, tremors, excessive salivation, convulsions, paralysis, stupors, or unprovoked aggression. If the animal dies during the 10-day quarantine, contact the Animal Control Officer/ Animal Inspector and the Watertown Health Department immediately.

4) At the end of the 10-day quarantine period, the Animal Control Officer/ Animal Inspector MUST visit the animal to verify health status and lift the quarantine order. If the animal is healthy after the 10 days, we know that the rabies virus was not passed to the person or animal who was bit or scratched.

5) If at any time during the quarantine these guidelines cannot be met or are violated, the animal will be picked up and the 10-day quarantine will be completed at a facility designated by the Animal Control Officer/ Animal Inspector, AT THE OWNER’S EXPENSE. Violations of a quarantine order are subject to a fine of up to $500 or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

Remember…while cases are not frequent, rabies is 100% fatal. Please adhere to the State quarantine guidelines. We care about you and your animal’s health!