Bitten by an animal? Here’s what to do!

Report the bite or scratch to the local health unit. The Sudbury & District Health Unit (SDHU) investigates all reported animal bites and scratches. Most investigations involve pet cats and dogs, although some involve stray and wild animals.

If an animal bites or scratches you:

  • Obtain the name, address, and phone number of the animal owner
  • Immediately wash the wound with soap and water
  • Get medical attention as soon as possible
  • Report the bite or scratch to the Health Unit and provide as much detail as possible, for example:
    • The name and address of the pet owner
    • A description of the animal
    • Any other information that will help find the animal

If a pet cat or dog bites or scratches a person, a public health inspector will visit the pet twice at its home to assess the animal’s health. The second visit will occur 10 days after the bite to verify that the animal is not rabid.

May is Rabies Awareness Month in Ontario. During this month the Sudbury & District Health Unit aims to increase awareness on the effects of rabies as well as to promote responsible pet ownership through rabies vaccination. Not only is having your cats and dogs vaccinated against rabies the most effective way to protect your pet and your family, it is also the law.

Rabies is a disease that affects both domestic and wild animals. Although foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats are the main carriers of rabies in Ontario, household pets are key links to spreading the disease from wild animals to humans. The virus is usually spread to humans through close contact with saliva through bites or scratches. Rabies is fatal if you are infected and do not receive timely treatment.

Last year, the Health Unit investigated over 250 animal bites or situations where a person may have come in contact with a potentially rabid animal. In relation to these cases, 9 people were vaccinated against rabies as a precaution.

Rules to follow around animals


  • Ask the owner’s permission before touching a pet
  • Approach pets slowly and carefully
  • Stay away from stray and wild animals
  • Stay calm around animals


  • Make loud noises around pets
  • Bother a pet while it is sleeping or eating
  • Tease an animal
  • Let children try to help a hurt animal; get an adult to help

To report a scratch or a bite, or for more information, call the Sudbury & District Health Unit at 705.522.9200, ext. 398, toll-free 1.866.522.9200.

This item was last modified on June 3, 2015