A brown mixed Labrador Retriever tested positive for virus just days after coming into contact with the unidentified owner and dog.
Health officials in Toronto are desperately searching for an unidentified owner and dog after another dog they came into contact with tested positive for rabies.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) officials said the dog that tested positive for the fatal but treatable disease was a brown mixed Labrador retriever that at the time, did not appear to be sick.
The unidentified dog, described as a grey and black adult bulldog, and owner were said to have come into contact with the Labrador Retriever on January 12 on Bison Drive and Regatta Crescent, near the intersection of Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue West.
A statement issued by the agency said the Labrador Retriever licked and jumped on both the owner and their dog.
On January 19, TPH received confirmation that the Labrador Retriever had tested positive for rabies and are now searching for the owner of the bulldog to “assess both their risk of exposure to rabies”.
The agency said that all other human and canine contacts of the infected dog have since been identified and contacted other than the current owner and pet they are hoping to locate now.
According to the statement, TPH “has engaged in door-knocking and postering in the community, as well as contacted nearby veterinarians and Toronto Animal Services” as part of their efforts.
The agency added that the bulldog may have been named “Bulldozer”, but that its current name is not known.
Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of warm-blooded animals, including humans, and if left untreated before symptoms appear, rabies will lead to death. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or rarely a scratch wound.
While officials have stressed that the risk of the rabid dog to the public remains very low, the agency encourages Toronto residents to ensure their pet’s rabies vaccinations are up to date, should be supervised at all times and kept away from wild animals.
According to statistics from the Government of Canada, rabies in humans is rare, with 4% of all animals reported to be infected with the disease between 2014 and 2016 being dogs and cats.
Anyone with information about the unidentified owner and dog should contact TPH on 416-338-7600 between the hours of 8.30am and 4.30pm or 311 Toronto after business hours. The agency can also be contacted at email@example.com.