The U.S. Postal Service has an important message for postal residents.
This week, May 19-25, is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and Postal Service officials ask residents to practice responsible pet ownership.
None of us think our dogs will bite or attack, but the reality is even the friendliest dogs, under the right circumstances, will bite or attack. Dog owners can prevent serious injuries to others by realizing their important role in dog bite prevention.
Letter carriers and people working outdoors know the frustrations of dealing with dogs on the loose or left unsecured. From nips and bites to actual attacks, violent dog behavior continues to pose a serious threat across the nation.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten annually, reports the Postal Service. And, of those, nearly 5,600 were Postal Service employees victimized by dogs.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report that small children, the elderly, and letter carriers - in that order - are the most frequent victims of dog attacks. Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.
Dog attacks are a serious problem. The U.S. Postal Service sponsors National Dog Bite Prevention Week to offer safety tips and emphasize the need for increased owner responsibility in the prevention of dog attacks.
Tips for responsible dog ownership include:
- Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs.
- When a carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door in another room. Don't let your child take mail from the carrier in the presence of your dog. Your dog's instinct is to protect the family.
- Pick a dog that is a good match for your home, consult your veterinarian for details, socialize your pet and avoid aggressive games with your pet.
- Take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet. Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of the letter carrier as a threat.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. The Humane Society of the United States statistics indicate that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident than neutered or spayed dogs.
- Socialize your pet. Dogs that haven't been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.
Steps to avoid dog bites:
- Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
- If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, and then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
- Don't approach a strange dog.
- Don't pet strange dogs.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack, place something between you and the dog such as a backpack or a bicycle.