Reducing animal bites in Mesquite

The following sections provide general guidelines on how to avoid animal attacks and what to do if you are attacked by an animal.




Dogs

If you see a stray dog nearby, stop what you are doing and find a safe place to wait until it has left the area. DO NOT try to pet it, feed it, or interact with it in any way unless you have the owner’s permission to do so.

Be prepared to take the following steps if a stray dog approaches you:

  • Remain calm. Keep your arms to your side, don’t yell or scream, and avoid eye contact with the dog. The dog may lose interest in you and leave.
  • Avoid running away. Many dogs have a strong “prey drive” instinct and will chase you if you try to run away. Slowly walk backwards or sideways away from the dog until you reach a safe area. Do not turn your back to the dog. Joggers and walkers should avoid areas with frequent stray dogs (consider exercising at a City rec center).
  • Protect yourself. If the dog attacks, use an object like a jacket, purse, or stick to shield yourself—the dog may bite this object instead of you. If you trip and fall to the ground, curl into a ball and protect your head with your arms until the dog leaves.
  • Dial 911 if you can’t get away from the dog or if it attacks you. Otherwise, report the dog to us by calling 972-216-6283.

Non-stray dogs sometimes bite their owners due to improper or excessive handling, especially by children. Parents should teach children not to tease, hit, or “wrestle” with dogs. NEVER leave a child alone with any dog—even small dogs can seriously injure a child.

If you are bitten or scratched by a dog, seek medical care and then call us at 972-216-6283.


Cats

Most cat bites and scratches are caused by improper or excessive handling of otherwise well-behaved family cats. Bites and scratches are also more common for individuals who attempt to feed, handle, or tame feral cats. If you are approached by a stray cat, DO NOT try to pet it, feed it, or interact with it in any way unless you have the owner’s permission to do so.

If you are bitten or scratched by a cat, seek medical care and then call us at 972-216-6283.


Wildlife with a higher risk for rabies



The State of Texas designates the following animals as having a higher risk for carrying rabies.

  • Bats
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
In Mesquite, these animals are occasionally found in parks and undeveloped areas of the city. They will usually avoid people, but encounters can occur when they learn that neighborhoods are a source of food. These encounters can be avoided by not allowing pets to run at large and not putting out trash too early. It is not necessary to tell us that you saw one of these animals in the city unless they act aggressively, appear sick or injured, or cause a nuisance in your home or neighborhood.

If you are bitten or scratched by one of these animals, seek medical care and then call us at 972-216-6283. Also, if your dog or cat has interacted with one of these animals in any way, please call us as soon as possible.


Wildlife with a low risk for rabies

Opossums, rats, squirrels, and most other mammals are a low-risk vector for rabies but may carry other diseases that are harmful to people. They are commonly found throughout all areas of the city. It is not necessary to tell us you saw one of these animals in the city unless they act aggressively, appear sick or injured, or cause a nuisance in your home or neighborhood.

If you are bitten or scratched by one of these animals, seek medical care as soon as possible. It is not necessary to tell us you were bitten or scratched by one of these animals unless the animal appears sick.


Snakes

If you find a snake inside your home or business, leave the room where the snake is located, close the door behind you to keep the snake contained, and then report the problem to us by calling 972-216-6283.

Snakes can be encountered year-round in Mesquite, but they are most active from March through October. Use caution near likely snake habitats such as wood/debris piles, areas with dense vegetation like fields or gardens, and near water sources like ponds, streams, or swimming pools.

Although most snakes in Texas are non-venomous, all snakebites should be considered a medical emergency until proven otherwise. If you are bitten by a snake, dial 911 immediately. Remain calm and tell the dispatcher any information you can about the snake, such as its approximate size, color, pattern, and where it was last seen. DO NOT try to suck out the venom or make cuts to the wound.


Insects, spiders, etc.

It is not necessary to contact Animal Services if you have been bitten or stung by a bee, wasp, ant, spider, scorpion, or any similar creature. To report a mosquito problem in your neighborhood, click here to notify the City of Mesquite Health Division. For all other insect problems, please contact a local pest control service.


OTHER RESOURCES

  • Dog Bite Prevention,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Dog Bite Facts,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Rabies,” Texas Department of State Health Services
  • Snakes,” Texas Department of State Health Services