Animal bites are preventable, that’s the message from the Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.

Senior Public Health Inspector Teresa Clow says they’re reminding the public because they see an increase in bites and scratches after the winter.

According to Clow the Health Unit respond to hundreds of animal bites and scratches, some of which cause physical scarring or exposure to rabies. Animals will bite or scratch for a number of reasons but with wild animals the risk of rabies is increased. Clow says they want people to report all animal bites whether domestic or otherwise.

The Health Unit have a number of tips for avoiding animal bites or scratches including not disturbing an animal that is eating, sleeping or caring for it’s young and asking an animal’s owner before trying to pet it. Clow adds that even around household pets you need to watch small children.

The Health Unit say if you’re ever bitten or scratched you should get the owner’s name, address and phone number so you can report the incident as soon as possible. They can be reached at 1-800-660-5823 during the week. More details on preventing animal bites can be found here.