The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is concerned about the number of animal bite/scratch incidents in their region. In each of the last three years, the HKPR DHU has investigated more than 600 animal bite/scratch incidents and this is “worrying given the rabies-exposure risk, the trauma suffered by the victim, and the fact that most of these bites involve pets or domestic animals.” The idea of the campaign is to ask dog owners (and other pet owners) to use “a yellow ribbon (or bandana, bow or similar marker) tied on a dog’s leash or collar to remind people to give the animal space.” So if you see a pet with a yellow ribbon – give it space! It might bite.
In announcing the campaign, which is part of the Health Unit’s Caution: I Might Bite awareness campaign, Richard Ovcharovich, Manager of Health Protection with the HKPR District Health Unit said: “Our new campaign highlights yellow as the colour of caution, which identifies when dogs need their space and reduces potential bites or scratches if someone gets too close. Simply put: see yellow on a pet, give the animal space!”
Further, the Health Unit’s Caution: I Might Bite campaign builds on an international movement known as the ‘Yellow Dog Project’ that encourages people to use yellow to show dogs need space. By tying a yellow ribbon or something similar to a dog’s leash or collar, pet owners are stating the animal needs space for various reasons. This could include age, health issues (including recovering from surgery), nervousness, aggression or training.
Ovcharovich encourages families, especially children, to realize what the yellow ribbon or marker means and give the animal space. It’s best not to approach or try petting the animal without the owner’s full attention and direction, he adds.
The campaign will target schools – especially up to grade 6 – and local social media.
And if someone is bitten by an animal, Ovcharovich encourages individuals to get the pet owner’s contact information. If possible, take a picture of the animal or remember specific features (like markings, collar with tags). This assists the Health Unit in its follow-up investigation to ensure the correct animal is identified. The Health Unit must be notified any time an animal bites or scratches a person (Call 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5006).