April 6, 2023
Each year the Health Unit responds to hundreds of reports of animal bites in Leeds Grenville and Lanark counties. Along with the pain and possible emotional and physical scarring caused by a bite there is the risk of exposure to rabies.
What Can I Do to Reduce My Chances of Being Bitten?
Many biting and scratching incidents are preventable. Follow these tips to protect yourself:
- Ask animal owners if it is okay to approach or pet their cat/dog when they are on a leash
- Stay away from wild, stray or unknown animals
- Wild animals cannot be domesticated and should not be fed, housed, or held
- If you have a new baby added to your family, be aware that some animals may exhibit jealous behaviour and try to harm the baby. Never leave a baby alone with an animal
- Never leave small children unattended in the presence of an animal, they may reach for a toy, or pull fur that may result in a bite
- Keep pets out of areas where food is being served; especially low surfaces such as coffee tables. Some pets are food aggressive and may become protective and result in a bite.
- Give pets a safe space when you have large gatherings as they may be stressed
- Don’t disturb an animal that is eating, sleeping or caring for its young
- If you encounter an animal that has been injured or is exhibiting signs of illness, do not try to pick it up; contact a local Ontario Wildlife Rescue Centre listed on the Ministry of Natural Resources website
- Avoid running past a dog as they like to chase things
- Never reach through a fence or enter a home unannounced as dogs may be protective of their territory and may feel you are a threat
- If threatened by a dog, avoid eye contact, speak firmly, stay still until the dog leaves, or back away, don’t turn and run
- If you are knocked down, curl up in a ball and cover your head and neck
- If you adopt a pet from an animal rescue, be sure to ask the about history of the pet you are adopting; animals coming from war-torn countries, for instance, may have experienced trauma and may only be suitable for certain families
What should I do if I am scratched or bitten?
- If you are bitten, clean the wound and try to determine who the owner of the animal is
- Seek medical attention and report the bite to the Health Unit – 1-800-660-5853 (evenings or weekends 613-345-5685).
How can I be a responsible pet owner?
- Vaccinate your pet against rabies, it is the law
- Keep pets leashed and under your control when out in public spaces
- Watch for signs of stress in your dog. If you think your dog is becoming protective or aggressive remove your dog from that environment
- Fence your yard
- Speak to your vet if your dog is experiencing a change in behaviour
If your pet is involved in a biting incident, get the animal under control, assist the person bitten and provide your name, phone number and address to the victim so the Health Unit can follow up with you. Do not euthanize your pet.
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