Dogs, Cats and Ferrets

Dogs, cats and ferrets in Washington State are very unlikely to have rabies. Unless a healthcare provider suspects exposure to rabies, bites from these animals are not reportable to the local health department. It is still important to know about rabies because it is almost always deadly without prompt treatment.

Due to increase rabies risk, tell your healthcare provider if you were bitten or scratched:

  • While you were traveling in another country.
  • By a pet brought in from another country within the past 6 months.
  • By an animal that had contact with a bat or other wild animal.
  • By an animal that was ill and not acting normally.

If you were scratched or bitten by a dog, cat or ferret:

  • Clean the wound well with soap and a large amount of water. This can help to prevent infections. If there is bleeding, a clean towel or gauze should be pressed to the wound to slow or stop the bleeding.
  • Seek medical care within 24 hours. Animal bites often need to be seen by a healthcare provider because they may become infected. You may also need a tetanus shot.
  • Contact your local animal control office to report an animal that is a threat to public safety.
  • Dogs, cats or ferrets that bite someone should be confined and observed for 10 days. A dog, cat or ferret with rabies will get sick and die within 10 days. If the animal remains healthy for 10 days, it does not have rabies.

During the 10 days of observation, the owner must follow these rules:

  • Restrict the animal so it cannot escape.
    • Do not leave the animal loose or by itself in the yard.
    • Do not take it off the property, including the dog park, on a walk, or in a vehicle.
  • Do not let the animal have contact with people or with other animals (pet or wild).
  • Observe the animal daily.
  • Do not vaccinate the dog, cat, or ferret for rabies during the 10 days. Vaccinate the animal after the 10th day if its rabies shots are not up-to-date.
  • Do not sell, destroy or give away the animal.
  • If the dog, cat or ferret gets sick, acts strangely, or dies within the 10 days of observation, immediately have a veterinarian examine it for signs of rabies.

If the dog, cat or ferret cannot be watched for the 10 days as described, you may report the bite to your local animal control agency.

Prevent animal bites

  • Never try to stop an animal fight.
  • Leave injured, sick or dead animals alone; get help.
  • Always leave animals alone when they are eating and drinking.
  • Always ask permission before touching somone else's pet.

Protect your pet. Keep your pets vaccinated.

Local Animal Control Agencies:

  • Bonney Lake (253) 841-5595
  • Buckley (360) 829-3157
  • Carbonado (360) 829-0125
  • Dupont (253) 830-5010
  • Eatonville (360) 832-6111
  • Edgewood (253) 841-5595
  • Fife (253) 922-6633
  • Fircrest (253) 627-7387, #2
  • Lakewood (253) 830-5010
  • Milton (253) 922-8735
  • Orting (360) 893-3111
  • Puyallup (253) 841-5595
  • Roy (253) 843-1113
  • Ruston (253) 761-0272
  • South Prairie (360) 897-8878
  • Steilacoom (253) 830-5010
  • Sumner (253) 841-5595
  • Tacoma (253) 627-7387, #2
  • University Place (253) 798-4251
  • Wilkeson (360) 829-0643
  • Pierce County (unincorporated) (253) 798-7387, #2