In North Carolina, law NCGS 130A-196 requires that all animal bites are reported to the local health department, even when an owner is bitten by their own pet. The state defines an animal bite as an incident involving the teeth or claws of an animal known to carry the rabies virus breaking someone’s skin. Once a scratch or bite occurs, a report must be completed and reported to the health department. The state views this as a public safety issue.
Rabies in North Carolina
This law is about the prevention of rabies, a fatal disease, not the animal’s behavior, owner’s negligence or other liabilities. North Carolina animal control officers will not necessarily confiscate or terminate a pet because it bit a human. Animal control officers will require that the animal be placed in a 10-day quarantine confinement, typically at the owner’s residence. If the animal hasn’t already been vaccinated, it must be at the end of the 10-day quarantine period.
More on rabies in North Carolina
The only rabies testing available requires the animal to be euthanized so its brain tissue can be examined for evidence of the disease. These limitations are the reason for requiring the 10-day confinement period. If the animal remains healthy through the 10 days, the rabies virus was not shed in its saliva during the scratch or bite. Animal bites and dog attacks typically do not occur without provocation. Oftentimes, these incidents occur within the home as a direct result of human interactions.
Pet attacks may result from accidentally stepping on a cat’s tail or a dog mistakenly bites the hand while going for a toy or Frisbee. These types of incidents can also be attributed to improper training or socialization. Feelings of possessiveness, territoriality or fear can also compel an animal or pet to attack someone. In addition, animals that haven’t been spayed or neutered are more likely to bite than those that have been.