Tioga County Public Health has recently seen an increase in domestic animal bites within the county. Animal bites have the potential to spread rabies, a fatal but preventable viral disease that can affect both humans and animals. It is important that residents know what to do if they encounter an unfamiliar animal.
If you see an animal you do not know, whether it is domestic or wild, do not touch it or try to capture it; use caution and try to avoid the animal; if the animal is in your backyard, go inside; for loose or stray dogs, contact the local dog control officer; if domestic and with their owner, ask permission before approaching. If the animal is openly aggressive (attacking or attempting to attack others), call 9-1-1.
If you are bitten, if the animal is domestic collect as much information on the animal and their owner as possible (i.e., the owner’s name and contact information, name of the animal, distinguishable markings, rabies vaccination status). If wild and available for rabies testing, save the animal double-bagged on ice or refrigerated until it can be collected. Call Tioga County Public Health for further instruction. Most importantly, seek medical care.
Daniel Scherrer, Public Health sanitarian, reiterates the importance of staying away from unfamiliar animals, stating, “You never know how an animal may react. It may appear to be friendly, but turn aggressive once approached. The best thing to do for your safety, and the safety of the animal, is to stay away and contact the appropriate authorities.”
Tioga County Public Health would also like to remind residents to keep their pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. For the 2022 Rabies Vaccination Clinic schedule, visit ph.tiogacountyny.gov.