- First ask permission from the owner to touch the dog;
- Should a dog allow you to touch him, do so gently;
- Don’t approach a dog you don’t know;
- A wagging tail does not always mean a dog is friendly;
- Look for warning signs like: growling, snarling, baring teeth, a tense body, stiff tail and pulled back ears.
- Don’t put your face close to a dog’s face. Dogs don’t really like hugs and kisses;
- Don’t smile at dogs. Aggressive dogs see you baring your teeth for a fight;
- Never tease a dog;
- Leave a mommy dog alone that is busy caring for her puppies;
- Never climb on dogs;
- Never sneak up on a sleeping dog and don’t touch a dog without them seeing you first;
- Don’t bother a dog who is busy eating or chewing his toys;
If you are confronted by a strange or aggressive dog, do keep your hands by your side, stand very still and try to back away slowly. Do not run away, scream or panic or make eye contact. If you are attacked, try to redirect the dog’s attention and put something in between you like a jacket or bag. If you fall, roll into a ball, cover your neck and ears with your hands and remain motionless.
It is advisable not to pick up stray animals as their vaccination and disease status is unknown. If you are bitten or scratched by one though, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with water and betadine or chlorhexidine for 5-10minutes, encouraging bleeding. Visit a doctor immediately after who will assess the risk asking pertinent questions about the exposure and follow correct post-exposure prophylaxis. DO NOT DELAY THIS. A human death, as a result of rabies, is viewed as a health system failure as it could have been prevented.
The only way to confirm rabies in an animal where there is little, or no history is to euthanase it and submit its brain tissue for specific antibody testing. If a suspicious animal cannot be euthanased, it must be caged for 10 days where it usually dies from the disease. Rabies is a notifiable disease which means that the State Veterinarian must be called and get involved. Vaccinating an infected animal does not stop the disease nor is post exposure treatment recommended in animals.
Report the attack to the police as well, in order to prevent the dog attacking anyone else. Within 24hrs, open a case with the SAPS under the Animal Matters Amendment Act No.42 of 1993. Sue via a lawyer if the dog owner is not prepared to pay for medical expenses.
The only way to effectively control this disease is through regular vaccination of the entire pet population. It is one of the fundamental responsibilities of any pet owner to ensure their pet is healthy (sterilised, vaccinated, dewormed and treated for parasites), abiding by the laws in place (rabies vaccination is required by law), which safeguards the community’s health too.
For more information visit www.worldrabiesday.org/
For further information contact
Marketing Manager for AACL Jhb – Carren Nickloes
011 435 0672
AUTHOR: Sr Cindy-Lee Price
General Manager: Animal Anti-Cruelty League – Johannesburg