With the unseasonably warm winter we have been enjoying, this weekend's predicted above average temperatures are expected to bring even more dogs and their owner's outdoors, increasing the risk of animal bites. Saskatoon Health Region encourages people to be responsible pet owners and take steps to reduce the chances of their animal biting someone.
On March 7, 2016, Saskatoon Health Region's Population and Public Health department was contacted about seven animal bites which had occurred that day in the City of Saskatoon.
Population and Public Health is reminding pet owners that they are responsible for their pet's actions. Responsible pet owners should always be in control of their animals and anticipate their reactions, especially in stressful situations, to ensure that others are safe.
"You have to make sure you are aware of what's going on around you," says Dr. Simon Kapaj, Deputy Medical Health Officer for Saskatoon Health Region. "While you may be a responsible dog owner, others may not be, so you need to make sure you don't accidently put your pet in a situation where a bite may occur."
Preliminary data for 2015 indicates that 592 animal bites were reported in that calendar year, slightly higher than the 583 reported in 2014. Almost 90 per cent of animals involved were domestic dogs and cats.
Public Health legislation requires that animal bites be reported to Population and Public Health to ensure that cases of human rabies are prevented. Rabies is a virus that is spread through a bite, scratch, or contact with the saliva of a rabid animal. Rabies is fatal for animals but is preventable in humans. Most investigations require that the pet owner observe their animal for 10 days. If the animal remains well during this period, there is no risk of rabies. In the event that an animal tests positive for rabies, all persons with possible exposure must be given rabies immune globulin and a series of rabies immunizations to prevent rabies infection. All pet owners should ensure that their pets are vaccinated against rabies.
To report a bite to Population and Public Health, call 306-655-4612.