Dept of Health & Human Services (DHHS)

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Animal Control and Rabies

Animal Control

Animal control is handled in the County by police departments and the Lakeland Animal Shelter.

Lakeland Animal Shelter Website, phone (262) 723-1000

To report animal abuse or neglect contact County Humane Officer Cindy Wrobel at:

 (262) 723-1000 ext. 5 or

I've found a bat, what should I do?

Rabies Exposure Guidelines

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system. The rabies virus is transmitted from infected mammals to humans (typically via a bite) and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear. Human rabies is now rare in the United States, but still occurs frequently in many developing nations. The last four cases of human rabies in Wisconsin occurred in 1959, 2000, 2004 and 2010. All four Wisconsin cases acquired the disease from infected bats.

Rabies control programs are governed by Wisconsin Chapter 95.21.

One of the most effective ways to prevent rabies infection is immediate thorough cleansing of the animal bite or scratch wounds with liberal amounts of soap and water for 10-15 minutes. 

It is important for bite victims to notify their local health department (or local law enforcement when public health staff are unavailable) whenever a bite occurs to ensure that the biting animal is appropriately and legally observed or tested for rabies. It is also vital not to release or destroy a biting animal until a public health official or an animal control officer is consulted. The victim's physician should also be notified promptly.

In most instances, observation or testing of the biting animal will rule out the possibility of rabies and will therefore eliminate any need for the bite victim to undergo the series of injections. If circumstances of the exposure warrant it, however, a physician will administer preventive medications (called post-exposure prophylaxis) to the bite victim. This preventive treatment consists of an injection of rabies immune globulin immediately, and four doses of the rabies vaccine given over the course of 14 days. The vaccine is injected in the arm, similar to a tetanus shot. Click here for details on the preventive post-exposure regimen.

Exposures to bats are worrisome because some people with very minor exposures to bats have contracted rabies. If there has been any possibility of physical contact with a bat, even without a known bite, the animal should be safely captured and held until a public health official or a physician can be consulted.

It should be noted that domestic animals which are exposed to rabies constitute a very real threat to their human owners, particularly if the animal is unvaccinated.

Prevention Measures
Exposure to rabies may be minimized by the following measures:

  • Eliminate stray dogs and cats and enforce leash laws.
  • Vaccinate pet dogs, cats, ferrets, and livestock against rabies.
  • Stay away from all wild animals, especially those acting abnormally.
  • Teach your children not to approach any unfamiliar animals.
  • Do not keep exotic or wild animals as pets, regardless of how young or cute they are.
  • Exclude bats from living quarters by keeping screens in good repair and by closing any small openings that could allow them to enter.
  • Persons traveling to developing countries in which rabies is highly prevalent, or persons who are at ongoing risk of possible rabies exposure (e.g., veterinarians, animal control officers) should ask their doctor about receiving the PRE-exposure rabies vaccinations.

Animal Handling Guidelines











      Dog, cat, ferret


Healthy and available for 10 days of observation


Quarantine and observe animal for 10 days


Injured or seriously ill


If owner consents, sacrifice and test animal as soon as possible.   Otherwise, quarantine and observe for 10 days.   If dies during quarantine, must be tested.


Rabid or suspected rabid


Sacrifice and test animal as soon as possible


Unknown (escaped)


Consult public health officials; consider search


 Skunk, bat, fox, coyote,

 raccoon, opossum, bobcat,

 wolf, or other carnivores  whether wild or kept as pets 6



Regard as rabid unless proven otherwise by

lab tests.



Animal should be killed and tested as soon as possible. Do not hold for observation.




Consult public health officials, & consider on case by case basis.  Sacrifice & test if signs of rabies apparent.



 Rodents, rabbits and hares

 whether wild or kept as pets


Bites of squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice, rabbits and hares virtually never call for testing of the animal if it was behaving normally at the time of the bite.  However, bites from large rodents such as woodchucks, beavers, and muskrats should be handled like those from carnivores (above).


·         All bite wounds should be thoroughly cleansed with soap and water as soon as possible.   Bite victim should consult a physician regarding the need for preventive treatment for rabies and tetanus, as well as for follow up wound care.

·         Authority does not yet exist in statute to quarantine ferrets, however, the alternative (for which there is authority in statute) is euthanasia and testing.

·         Quarantine is imposed regardless of animal’s rabies immunization status.   A quarantine on the premises of the owner may be permitted only if  the animal is current on its rabies immunizations; otherwise animal must be delivered to an isolation facility such as a veterinary clinic.

·         If an animal under quarantine develops any signs suggestive of rabies (as determined by a veterinarian), it should be immediately sacrificed and tested for rabies.

·         Animals should not be shot in the head, nor should the head be mutilated in any way.  Refrigerate specimen; avoid freezing; ship on ice packs (not dry ice); see the State Laboratory of Hygiene brochure "Diagnosis of Rabies" for details about shipping, or call the SLH at 608/262-7323.

·         Wild or domestic skunks, game animals, or fur-bearing animals (including raccoons) may not be sold or kept as pets unless specific permits are obtained.

Should an animal be tested for rabies?  State Rabies Algorithm

Rabies for Veterinarians

State statute 95.21 allows for the submission of animals for rabies fee exempt when there has been an exposure to a human or domestic animal.

To submit an animal fee exempt:

·         Contact Walworth County Public Health at (262) 741-3140 to confirm fee exempt status

·         Fill out the State Lab of Hygiene Specimen Submission Form, place the fee exempt code provided by public health at the top of the form

·         Fax a copy of the completed form to Public Health at (262) 741-3757

·         Package the specimen following SLOH guidelines

Wild animal submissions including postage and processing, where there is a human or domestic animal exposure, may be paid for by Public Health. For approval to submit an animal through this fund contact Public Health at (262) 741-3140.

State Rabies Program Veterinarians:

Dr. Jim Kazmierczak, Department of Health Services, Rabies Program, (608) 266-2154

Dr. Yvonne Bellay, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Animal Health Program, (608) 224-4888


Rabies Fact Page (CDC)

Rabies Fact Sheet (WI DHS)

Rabies for Kids (CDC)


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