The last time I visited the Aberfoyle (Ontario) Fall Fair, the petting zoo was so bad that I ended up writing to the fair organizers and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit. (Neither group replied). It was pretty bad. Young poultry are inappropriate petting zoo animals because of the risk of transmission of bacteria like Salmonella, yet baby chicks were being passed around to young children. One chick was injured by rough handling and the petting zoo supervisor just threw it (still alive) in the garbage. There was a diarrheic calf, poor hand hygiene facilities, and other problems.

We went back to the fair yesterday and I was quite pleasantly surprised: no chicks, no calves, all appropriate and healthy-looking animals, a clean facility and good hand hygiene stations. There were still a couple of suboptimal things, like not having hand sanitizers by one exit, and having a "supervisor" who was staring off into the wilderness and smoking inside the tent filled with kids and straw, but it was night-vs-day compared to the last time. I doubt my letter had much to do with it, but you never know.  I think it’s important that people not accept inadequacies that put the public (particularly children) at risk. People need to raise a stink when they see a problem. I wrote earlier today about a child who had her finger bitten off by a petting zoo zebra that had bitten other people. The previous bites may not have been reported because they were minor, but we need to report apparently minor problems so they don’t escalate into major injuries, disease outbreaks or other bad scenarios.

Anyway, it was great to see an improvement, and people in the petting zoo appeared to be having a good time. Now if they’d just work on "Big Ned’s" food concession, where the only sink seems to be a storage area with no soap or paper towels, and which appeared to be in need of a serious cleaning, or on the little midway, where they were hand cranking the questionable kiddie ferris wheel to get kids off when all the rides stopped working. Baby steps, I guess.