How crises are like rabies

Wikipedia lists the initial symptoms of rabies as including: paralysis, cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, hallucinations, progressing to delirium. Corporate CEOs and their communications advisers can easily relate when a crisis hits.

A troubling story emerged in Toronto yesterday as a man who purchased a dog at a Dr. Flea market for $200 contracted rabies from the collie. As this is a public health concern, the media sprung into action and successfully reported on this story in just about every news outlet in the city. 13 Stractical points to the Toronto Humane Society who spearheaded the dissemination with a public service release that formed the basis of the reported news. Anyone who might have been at the flea market during the time the dog was present and consumes news from any source has now been alerted and have probably been checked out by their doctor.

The Humane Society, along with Toronto Public Health, also made spokespeople widely available to answer questions about the incident, and educate the public about the realistic dangers of rabies and to caution the public of buying animals from a flea market (from the department of – how stupid can you be?).

To alert and educate is a great backbone of any crisis plan. Although the infraction or blame falls on the dog seller and the Dr. Flea’s, the Humane Society’s mandate includes the advocacy for safe and responsible pet ownership. While Dr. Flea’s has yet to make a statement (perhaps because of police investigations) and risk ruining their reputation forever (nothing kills your customer base like a safety concern), I bet the Humane Society is about to give a whole lot more puppies away for adoption thanks to their cool kept in a crisis.

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