What to do if there is an animal bite or scratch?

Practicing safe animal handling techniques and wearing correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should greatly minimize the risk of injury to staff from animal bites and scratches. However, bites and scratches can occur within a shelter environment. A bite or scratch from a domestic or wild animal which breaks the skin must be treated as a serious incident and reported to a manager and the Department of Shelter Health and Wellness. The following steps are to be taken if an employee or volunteer is bitten or scratched by a domestic or wild animal and the skin is broken:

  • First aid must be administered to the bite/scratch area. It is strongly recommended that the staff or volunteer seek medical attention from a primary health care practitioner. Please DO NOT treat a bite/scratch if you have not been trained to do so. If it is an emergency situation call 911 for assistance.
  • The bite or scratch must be reported to an immediate supervisor.
  • A Public Health Rabies Exposure Form must be completed and Public Health must be notified if there is a bite or scratch that breaks the skin from any domestic or wild animal.
  • WSIB notification - if an employee receives health care (outside of on-site first aid) or is absent from work due to an animal bite or scratch, WSIB must be notified by completing a Form 7. Only employees are covered by WSIB. Volunteers are not covered through WSIB and would not require a Form 7 to be completed.
  • An incident report must be completed for an employee if no Form 7 is necessary as described above. For bite/scratches to volunteers, an incident report must be completed and forwarded to the Human Resources Department for our health and safety records.

FOLLOW UP

Once a bite or scratch has occurred, it is important to examine the cause of the injury, review animal handling practices, and ensure proper PPE was worn correctly. The Department of Shelter Health and Wellness can recommend animal handling techniques and restraints which can reduce the occurrence of bites and scratches.

See Dr. Sophia Yin’s "How to Greet a Dog" for proper approach of unknown dogs.