Starting Tuesday, the La Crosse Health Department will be issuing a new citation in cases that involve animal bites.
The citation will be issued if an animal owner has failed to get their animal vaccinated against rabies or if they fail to quarantine their pet for ten days after a reported bite.
The Health Department hopes this citation will increase the number of animals that get vaccinated.
“They are supposed to provide proof of vaccination, but we do see a fair amount that are involved in bites where the vaccination is not up to date,” said Jen Rombalski, the health director of La Crosse County Health Department. “It’s not always on purpose that the owner of the animal is doing this, but it does happen frequently enough.”
For Rombalski, this citation is less about making money for the Health Department and more about being a tool to motivate.
“It is not our goal though to charge people a fine,” Rombalski said. “We really want to educate and work with someone. It’s better for all of us If the animal is vaccinated up front and if the animal is quarantined properly.”
For the health department, it’s important that people look out for more than just dog and cat bites when it comes to rabies, but also other animals as well.
“There’s also wild animals that can bite,” Rombalski said. “There have been individuals that have been bitten by skunks, you can be bitten by a raccoon, you could be bitten by any number of animals and some of them are very concerning for rabies.”
Rombalski says getting animals vaccinated and following procedures after a reported bite is important for creating a secure La Crosse.
“We feel this is the next step in making sure that we can keep the community as safe as possible,” Rombalski said. “And this is a partnership. A partnership with law enforcement, with veterinarians in our community and with the public at large.”
The citations will cost $100 and result in a court date.
The fine can also be issued if an animal owner fails to complete the three veterinarian visits that law enforcement requires after a reported bite.