Big-box retailer Home Depot is moving to ban pets from its Canadian stores after an Ottawa-area employee had her nose bitten by a Shih Tzu.

The company said Thursday it has announced the ban at its stores across the country and will implement the new policy over the next few weeks in the interests of employee and customer safety.

"We believe this is the best decision for the shopping enjoyment and safety of all customers," the company said in a statement.

No pets will be allowed in Home Depot's Canadian locations starting May 16, with the exception of service animals.

The change in policy was announced after Anne Riel, an employee at the Home Depot store in Gloucester, east of Ottawa, was bitten by a dog at work. She required seven stitches in her nose, which will likely be permanently disfigured from the incident.

Riel, 39, was greeting an elderly customer and had bent down to pet the woman's Shih Tzu, she said.

Bleeding from the bite, she was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, during which doctors tried to repair a hole in her nose. A part of her left nostril was also torn apart and had to be re-closed.

"I'm going to have to get some legal counsellling," she told CTV News Channel on Tuesday. "I'm not a nasty person by any means, but my family's been traumatized, my kids are having a hard time. I'm in a little bit of pain and the nose is never going to look the same again."

Riel said she will likely require "quite a few" operations to fix her nose."

The dog's owner has been fined $610, and the dog must now be muzzled.