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What Happens When I Report a Dog Bite in Texas?

When you report a dog bite in Texas to animal control, an officer investigates the bite incident to determine the following:

  • who owns the dog
  • whether the dog has been vaccinated for rabies
  • whether the dog currently has rabies
  • whether the dog is dangerous.

If the dog shows no signs of rabies, has no prior bite history, and is properly vaccinated, then the dog may or, may not be quarantined for 10 days before it is returned to the owner. If the dog has not been vaccinated, it will be quarantined for 10 days for rabies monitoring and then returned to the owner if it does not have rabies.  If the dog has rabies it will be put down. Whichever of the possibilities occurs, the victim will be notified of the rabies determination.

Dog Bite Investigations

Who Must Report a Dog Bite?

Beware of the DogAccording to the Texas Health and Safety Code, anyone with knowledge of a bite or even a scratch that can reasonably foresee the transmission of rabies is required to report the incident. If you do not know for a fact that the dog has had a rabies shot and has not been exposed to an animal with rabies, the “reasonably foresee” standard is vague enough that you better err on the side of caution and report it. As stated before, this law applies to anyone. Most veterinarians and emergency medicine professionals know about this law and take it very seriously. They will report the bite even if you do not. So you are better off reporting it so you do not get accused of breaking the law.

Who Do You Call for a Dog Bite?

Typically, if you are in city limits, the city animal control will have jurisdiction. If you are outside city limits, the county will have jurisdiction. In some small rural areas, the police double as animal control. If you are unsure, the police can usually tell you who to call or you can check our Houston-area animal control listings for a number.

The Response

When you report a dog bite timely, Animal Control will send out an animal control officer to investigate. Depending upon where you are and how busy they are, it may be immediately, or it may be a day or two later. Most are pretty prompt when the report is immediate. In some cases, our Texas dog bite lawyers have seen, the animal control officer come to the hospital to investigate the facts and the injuries by speaking with the victim. Prompt reporting is highly recommended. The sooner you report it, the more evidence you will have preserved in your case.

Why is There a 10-day Quarantine for Dogs That Bite in Texas?

You have to remember, the primary goal of animal control is to stop the spread of rabies. The way they do this is by implementing a 10-day quarantine for dog bites so they can observe the dog and monitor it for symptoms of rabies. If you wait beyond the 10-day incubation period, animal control may not conduct a full investigation when you call them because you would already know if you received rabies. This can be very bad for the victim when you go to make an insurance claim. You will not have the benefit of the investigation, the owner’s ID, and all of the other information animal control can get for you. If you now have to hire your own investigator to learn these things because the owner is noncooperative, it may not be cheap or easy to get the evidence you need in your case.

The Report

After investigating the incident, the animal control department will issue the findings in a Bite Report.  The Bite will actually be assigned a Bite Number that is cataloged in their system. If you are the victim, it is wise to ask for the bite number when you speak with the first investigator. This will make finding the report easier at a later date. The Animal Bite Report will have valuable information such as statements taken from the owner, the owner’s full name, address, and phone number, the identity and dog breed, vaccination history, and veterinary information, and sometimes, you can even find comments about the dog’s bite history in the notes—which can be very important in proving liability in a dog bite case.

What Happens to a Dog That Bites Someone?

tethered dogWhen a dog is reported for biting someone, animal control will look into bite history and vaccination history first. If vaccinations can be documented as up to date by the owner and there is no bite history, they often will allow the owner to have the dog quarantined at home or at a local veterinarian’s office for a 10-day quarantine for observation. So long as it shows no signs of rabies, it will be returned to the owner. If the dog has no history of bites but does not have up-to-date vaccination records they are likely to take the dog to the animal control facility for a 10-day quarantine and hold until it is both vaccinated and determined not to be vicious. If the dog has a bite history or appears vicious to animal control, they are likely to impound it immediately. A dog that is determined dangerous is typically put down. Dogs not determined dangerous can be released but they are supposed to require proof of insurance of 100,000 in canine liability insurance coverage. I say “supposed to” because the procedure is not always followed.


You are required by law to report dog bites. When you do, animal control will investigate the incident so long as you report it timely. The 10-day quarantine for dog bites will likely be used to rule out rabies in Texas. Failure to report it timely can not only expose you to criminal penalties but can also be detrimental to your civil claim for damages against the dog owner’s insurance policy. Thus, reporting the dog bite promptly is the wise course of action.




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Simmons and Fletcher, P.C., rooted in Christian values, exclusively handles personal injury cases, advocating for the rights of accident and negligence victims. Our Houston-based team, dedicated to compassion and excellence, handles cases across car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, dog bites, and other types of cases with a commitment to personalized care. Upholding integrity and client-focused service, we strive for impactful legal outcomes. For a detailed understanding of our approach and team, visit our attorneys page.

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