HKPR District Health Unit Tackles Animal BItes

In Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
With yellow already an accepted signal for “caution” – as in the traffic signals one sees every day – the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit is urging dog owners to make use of the colour in a bid to boost community safety.

The health unit is encouraging the use of a yellow ribbon, bandana, bow or similar marker tied to a dog’s leash or collar as a visual reminder to others to give the animal its space – all part of their Caution: I Might Bite awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of reported animal bites.

The problem of animal bites in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes was mentioned at a recent board of health meeting, with more than 600 animal bite-or-scratch incidents investigated annually for each of the past three years.

“The rise in animal-bite incidents 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,” Manager of Health Protection Richard Ovcharovich said in the press release.

“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.”

The Caution: I Might Bite campaign builds on an international movement known as the Yellow Dog Project, which encourages people to use yellow to show that dogs need space. It’s a pet owner’s way of stating that, for whatever reason – age, nervousness, aggression, training or such health issues as recovering from surgery – the dog requires this consideration.

Ovcharovich encourages families (and especially children) to realize what the yellow ribbon or marker means, and to give the animal its space. It’s best not to approach or try petting the animal without the owner’s full attention and direction, he added.

The health unit has also developed a Keep Bites t Bay school-based classroom resource and activity for children in Kindergarten through Grade 6. It promotes animal-bite prevention and promotes the use of yellow ribbons for animals that need space. Teachers are encouraged to present the information (or to have a public-health inspector make the presentation), which can be arranged by calling 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5006.

And in support of the Caution: I Might Bite campaign, various promotional items are being distributed throughout the HKPR region. As well the Yellow = Caution message will be shared across social-media and other web platforms. Social-media users are encouraged to get involved by sharing photos of animals wearing the yellow marker or ribbon – simply tag the health unit (@HKPRDHU) or use the hashtags #YellowRibbonDog or #GiveMeSpace

If someone is bitten by an animal, Ovcharovich encourages individuals to get the pet owner’s contact information, if possible, to take a picture of the animal and remember identifying features (like markings or a collar with tags). The health unit must be notified any time an animal scratches or bites a person, and this kind of information will help with their follow-up investigation.
For more information, call the health unit at 1-866-888-4577 ext. 5006 or visit

Jeff Gard
Author: Jeff Gard

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