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Dramatic increase in number of reported animal bites

FORSYTH COUNTY — In light of a dramatic increase in the number of reported animal bites, the Animal Services Division of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office reminds the public to practice safe habits around animals.

Over the past weeks, there has been a marked increase in the number of animal bites reported to the Animal Services Division (ASD). While the number historically increases as the weather warms, the number of bites reported has increased significantly. In May of 2019, there were 82 animal bites reported to the ASD for the entire month. In the first 13 days of May 2020, there have already been 50 bites reported.

“We believe that the dramatic rise is a result of increased exposure. More people are at home, more people are out walking in their neighborhoods, and so there are more encounters and interaction with animals than normal. This has led to an increased number of bites being reported,” explains Captain Van Loveland, Animal Services Division commander. “We want our community members, both two- and four- legged, to be safe.”

In light of the surge in the number of reported animal bites, people are encouraged to practice the following:

• Ensure each of your pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccination. North Carolina state law requires that all rabies vaccines remain continuously current, meaning they cannot be overdue by even one day. While many reduced-cost and free clinics are closed due to the pandemic, veterinarian offices remain open.

• Do not leave children unattended with animals, even your family pet. Often, children are unable to read the subtle cues animals give when they are uncomfortable with a human’s behavior or simply want to be left alone.

• If you encounter an animal you don’t know, leave it alone. It is tempting to pet a (seemingly) friendly dog or cat, but you do not know the animal’s temperament, health, or vaccination status.

•  Forsyth County Ordinance prohibits owners from allowing pets to “run at large.” This means that pets must be kept on your property and, if you are on a walk, they must be kept on a leash.

•  North Carolina state law requires that victims report all animal bites, even if the victim does not seek treatment from a medical facility. Bites are defined as “when the teeth of the animal scratch or break the skin of a human being.” In Forsyth County, animal bites must be reported to Animal Services at 336-703-2480, option 1.

Ensuring the above measures are practiced will help to reduce the number of animal bites and keep both our two- and four- legged community members healthy and safe.