Interacting with animals

photo-icon Tony Lewis

Safely interacting with all creatures great and small.

Interacting with animals allows us to get closer to nature. Animals provide a unique opportunity to learn, explore and appreciate the natural world; an experience that should be valued, respected and enjoyed.

It is important, however, to remember that animals carry germs that can cause illness in people, and have the potential to cause injury or harm.

Animal contact guidelines

Diseases that can pass from animals to people are called zoonotic diseases. They are commonly spread and contracted by contaminated hands during contact with animals, animal environments, or animal waste.

SA Health’s Animal Contact Guidelines provide information for people such as animal handlers, animal exhibitors, pet shop retailers, staff, visitors and customers at an animal exhibit, event, premises or retail outlet who interact with animals, to reduce the risk of illness and stay healthy when handling animals.

The guidelines also include information about the prevention of zoonotic disease from animals in childcare services, schools or health care facilities.

When animals are present, regardless of whether animals are touched, you should always wash your hands with liquid soap and running water, and dry using a single-use disposable paper towel or air dryer, to reduce the risk of contamination.

Please note: it is illegal to refuse entry to an assistance dog onto a business premise, including accommodation house, public passenger vehicle or where food is served. An assistance dog is easily identified as it will be wearing a special harness or jacket and the handler has a card.

Need more information?

If you have any questions or have concerns about safely interacting with animals, please contact our Environmental Health: