Safety Around Animals

There’s a reason why 62% of American households have pets (which equates to 72.9 million homes according to the APPA 2011-2012 Pet Owner Survey). Pets aren’t just cute; research shows pets help to lower blood pressure, sooth nerves, fight depression and loneliness, and provide a sense of security. With so many pet owning households, it is important to consider how to stay safe around pets as well as teach animal safety to children at a young age.

Animal Bites

If your pet bites someone, or if you are bitten, you must report the incident to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control at (602) 506-7387. Most domestic animals (dogs, cats, ferrets) will be quarantined in an approved facility or the owner’s home. Under A.R.S. § 11-1025, Animal owners may be legally responsible for any related expenses. A dog that has bitten someone may be considered “aggressive,” requiring the owner to take steps to prevent the dog from escaping an enclosed area or biting another person or animal (A.R.S. § 11-1014.01).

Vicious Animals

A pet that has a propensity to attack, cause injury, or otherwise endanger the safety of people without provocation may be declared “vicious” by a justice of the peace or city magistrate and subject to court-ordered measures to protect the public (A.R.S. § 1014). A peace officer of animal control officer may request a disposition hearing to determine what to do with a vicious animal (A.R.S § 11-1029).

Wild Animals

The best way to stay safe around wild animals is to keep your distance. Admiring a wild animal from afar is crucial to making sure the animal doesn’t feel threatened. A scared wild animal may bite, scratch, or attack. Wild animals, including bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks and wildcats can be surrendered to the Arizona Game & Fish Department at:

Main Office
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix

Dog Bites

Children are the most frequent victims of dog bites – many of which can be prevented. Teach your kids to avoid unknown or stray dogs and never pet a dog without first asking the owner’s permission. If confronted by an aggressive dog, children should quietly walk away or, if a dog goes after them, “be a tree” by standing still and looking down with their hands clasped in front of them. More bite prevention tips are at www.avma.org.