Reporting Animal Bites

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, report it immediately to the Animal Services Division by calling 9-1-1 (if in-progress) or 301-279-8000 (if not in-progress).  Prompt reporting allows for proper investigation and quarantine to prevent the possibility that the victim will contract rabies.  Under state and county health laws, any person with knowledge that an animal has bitten or scratched a person must report the bite promptly to the Division of Animal Control and Humane Treatment.  Medical personnel also have a duty to report to the Division anytime they treat a patient for animal bites.

How many animal bites are reported each year?

Every year in Montgomery County, there are approximately 800-900 reported cases in which an animal bites a human. The Animal Services Division investigates each of these bites as part of its rabies-control responsibilities and to protect the community from dangerous animals.

Preventing Dog Bites white terrier

For Dog Owners

Unfortunately, too many times the victims of dog bites are children.  These children are often members of the dog’s own household or children who are visitors to the household. Studies have identified several risk factors that are associated with dogs who bite.  Dogs that have one or more of these risk factors are more likely to bite than dogs with no risk factors.

  • Dogs that are unaltered (both male and female dogs)
  • Dogs that are maintained outside all or most of the time
  • Dogs that are chained outside
  • Dogs that have never undergone any formal obedience training
  • Dogs whose owners play roughly with them, or play aggressive “mouth” games such as tug-of-war with the dog

You can reduce the chances of your dog being involved in a biting incident by avoiding these risk factors. Make your dog a family pet and have him live inside your home with the rest of your family. Avoid chaining your dog – take him for walks instead. Alter your pet as soon as possible. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Kennel Club, and local and national humane groups have all endorsed spaying and neutering of animals as young as 8 weeks. Neutering can be done at a lower fee through the Division’s low-cost neutering program. And take your dog to an obedience course. It’s good exercise and a lot of fun for both you and your pet. It’s also a great way to meet other pet owners and get advice from an expert on animal behavior.

For those who may be confronted by a strange dog

  • Do not run away. Stand quietly, your hands at your side. Face the dog, but do not look him directly in the eyes. Remain still until the dog loses interest, or back away slowly and calmly, until you reach safety. Never turn your back on the dog.
  • If the dog tries to bite, “feed” him your purse, jacket, backpack or anything else in an effort to protect yourself.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears.  Remain as still as possible, and do not scream or yell.