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Yellow Ribbon Campaign – Animal Bite Awareness

Yellow is the colour of caution on traffic lights, and is now a warning sign to give space to dogs and other animals that need it.

Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) is encouraging the use of a yellow ribbon (or bandana, bow or similar marker) tied to a dog’s leash or collar to remind people to give the animal space. This is part of RCDHU’s rabies awareness campaign to reduce the number of reported animal bites in the region.

Yellow = CAUTION. If you see yellow on a pet, give the animal space!

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that affects the brain. It is spread between warm-blooded animals and could be spread to humans from an infected animal through a bite or other contact with the animal’s saliva. Rabies is a very serious disease; if an infected person is not treated, rabies is almost always fatal. In Ontario, rabies is most commonly found in bats, raccoons, foxes, coyotes and skunks. Domestic animals, including dogs, cats, ferrets and rabbits can also carry the virus so pet vaccination is important.

Symptoms usually appear three to eight weeks after the bite, but they can appear as soon as nine days afterwards. Rabies is usually fatal unless treatment starts before symptoms appear. Symptoms usually begin with:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • General weakness or discomfort

As rabies progresses, more symptoms appear and may include:

  • Insomnia – trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Partial paralysis
  • Excitation and hallucinations
  • Agitation
  • Hypersalivation – increase in saliva
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Hydrophobia – fear of water or unable to drink

Death usually occurs within days of the start of these symptoms.

Protect Yourself, Children and Pets from Animal Bites

There are dozens of preventable animal bites each year in Renfrew County and District. Always use caution around animals:

  • Do not approach a dog with a Yellow Ribbon or collar – give them space
  • Do not pet wild animals, stray cats and dogs
  • Always keep your dogs on a leash while outdoors unless in designated dog parks
  • Know the local by-laws on animal control and licensing
  • It is a legal requirement in Ontario to vaccinate your pets (cats/dogs/ferrets) with rabies vaccine
  • Rabies is a 100% fatal disease when not treated early enough

If you are bitten by an animal:

If you are a victim of an animal bite, follow the below steps:

  • Clean your wound immediately with soap and running water for 15 minutes
  • Gather the pet owner’s contact information, if possible
  • Try and remember what the animal looks like
  • Visit your local hospital or speak to a health care provider to discuss treatment
  • Inform RCDHU of the incident and follow the instructions given to you by a Public Health Inspector

If you are the owner of an animal involved in a biting or scratching incident:

  • Provide your name, address and phone number to the person who was bitten or scratched. Your information will help Public Health Inspectors investigate the animal scratch/bite when it is reported to RCDHU. This will also help to avoid unnecessary rabies treatment for the person who was scratched/bitten.
  • Follow RCDHU’s instructions on 10-day animal confinement. Animal confinement can take place at home or a kennel.
  • Public Health Inspectors will release the dog after 10 days if the animal is alive and appears healthy.
  • Release of the animal from confinement indicates that the animal was NOT infected with rabies at the time of the incident.
  • Ensure your dogs, cats or ferrets are up to date on rabies vaccinations.

If you have questions or are looking for additional information regarding rabies, please contact RCDHU’s Healthy Environments department at 613-732-3629 ext. 505.

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Pembroke Office

141 Lake Street, Pembroke, Ontario K8A 5L8

Phone: 613-732-3629
Toll Free: 1-800-267-1097
Fax: 613-735-3067

Hours of Operation
Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Renfrew Service Hub (By Appointment Only)

120 Plaunt Street South, Renfrew, Ontario, K7V 1M5

Services offered by appointment only.

If you require an alternative accessible format or assistance accessing information on this page, please contact us at or 613-732-3629.