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Health Unit Requesting Public Assistance in a Rabies Investigation

SIMCOE, MAY 29, 2015– The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is asking for the owner of a mixed breed hound dog that bit a man Thursday, May 28th, 2015 in Waterford to come forward. At approximately 12:45pm the man began walking on the trail parallel to the river near Alice Street in Waterford. The man claims he was approached by the dog owner, which he described as a middle aged, taller women with light brown hair tied in a ponytail, and her dog. He described the dog as a tan coloured, hound dog mix with some coloured markings and weighing approximately 30 pounds. Unfortunately, when the man allowed the dog to approach him upon the dog owner’s request, the dog bit him in the left hand and left knee. The injuries sustained required his immediate attention and he claims that the dog owner then left the scene with her dog without providing any contact information or assistance.

“We hope the dog owner will come forward to help us ensure the man was not exposed to rabies. We simply need to see the dog to assess it for rabies” explains Adrienne Andrew, Program Manager for the Health Unit’s Environmental Health Team. “Due to the timeliness required of our investigation process, we are also asking anyone aware of the incident to contact us should the owner not come forward. The caller’s information will be kept strictly anonymous” adds Andrew. The dog owner and anyone willing to come forward with information regarding the incident can call the Health Unit at 519-426-6170/905-318-6623 or 905-318-5367 or send an email to [email protected].

The Health Unit is required to investigate all animal bites to humans in order to prevent rabies. In the case of domestic dogs, cats and ferrets, this can be done by observing the animal for 10 days following the bite. If the animal in question has rabies and transmitted it at the time of the bite, the animal would then show symptoms of rabies within those 10 days of observation. This observation is often allowed to occur under the animal owner’s care provided they have suitable facilities to do so and they are cooperative with the Health Unit’s requirements. “Unfortunately, if we are unable to assess the dog for rabies, we would have to recommend that the victim consult their doctor regarding rabies prophylaxis” explains Andrew. “We understand that the prevalence of rabies is relatively low now in Ontario but we still see it in wildlife, namely bats, which can come into contact with domestic animals. We still have to be vigilant in preventing this disease as it’s not something to fool around with. In most cases, rabies is fatal for persons who become infected with it” adds Andrew.

From 2010 to 2015, the Health Unit investigated 1,862 animal bites to humans for an average of approximately 372 investigations per year. These investigations help ensure victims of animal bites do not acquire rabies and that pets are up to date on their rabies vaccination as required by law. “Unfortunately, we have come across pet owners who assume we are there to take their pet away from them forever or that we will have it euthanized. We want to remind pet owner’s that our role is simply to rule out that their pet had rabies at the time of the bite and ensure that the victim was not exposed to the this fatal disease” explains Andrew. “Legal matters such as the Dog Owner’s Liability Act and civil suits between the parties involved do not fall within our mandate” she adds.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit is also taking this opportunity to remind the public of the Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics currently underway. At a cost of $15 per dog or cat, the following clinics are still available.

  • Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Port Dover Arena
  • Wednesday, June 3, 2015 from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Waterford Tricenturena Arena
  • Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Simcoe Recreation Centre

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Media contact:
Program Manager, Environmental Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
P.O. Box 247, 12 Gilbertson Drive
Simcoe, Ontario N3Y 4L1
P: 519-426-6170 ext. 3216
F: 519-426-9974
Email: [email protected]