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Rabies in S.C.

What Happens to Animal that Bit

If your own dog bit, scratched or wounded someone,:

  • Confine the dog immediately.
  • Apply first aid to the bite wound and seek medical treatment if needed.
  • Call your veterinarian to check your dog's vaccination records. Tell your veterinarian about your dog's aggressive action. The veterinarian can examine your dog to make sure he is healthy and advise you on training courses and approaches that may prevent more bites.

If a stray or someone else's pet bit you and you don't know who owns the dog:

  • Apply first aid and seek medical treatment for your wound.
  • Contact local animal control or law enforcement and tell them everything you can about the dog: the owner's name, if you know it; the color and size of the dog; where you encountered the dog; and if, where, and when you've seen it before. These details may help authorities locate the dog and find out if it has been vaccinated for rabies.

If the animal and the owner can be located, DHEC will investigate the incident to determine if the animal will need to be quarantined – kept away from the public and other animals, usually in a veterinary kennel – for 10 days to 6 months.

Some pets, especially those never vaccinated for rabies, and strays or wild animals, will need to be tested for rabies. Unfortunately, the only way to do this is to euthanize the animal so that its brain can be examined for signs of the disease.

To make sure you never face this tragic situation with your pet, make sure to keep your dog, cat or ferret rabies vaccinations up to date. You may be able to have this done at one of DHEC's yearly rabies vaccination clinics.

If the animal that bit you was a dog, learn how to prevent bites/wounds in the future.

If you are forced to kill an attacking animal to save a person or another pet, try to keep from damaging the animal's head. In order for a lab to test the animal for rabies, the head must be in good condition.

For Healthcare Providers

See guidance from DHEC and the CDC on evaluating animal exposures to help you make decisions about postexposure treatment.


For additional information, contact: (803) 896-0655 Fax (803) 896-0645