12 April 2017

HEALTH - US Postal Service Reports Increase in Dog Attacks

It’s dog bite prevention week and the US Postal Service has announced an increase in dog attacks last year.

In 2016, a total of 6,755 postal employees were attacked by dogs in calendar year - compared to 6,549 in 2015.

The statistics can’t be too surprising since pet ownership in the country is also on the rise.

“Even good dogs have bad days,” said U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo in Los Angeles, where postal employees suffered 80 attacks — more than any other city in 2016. “Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets and those who visit homes — like letter carriers — happy and healthy.”

The Postal Service is just one organization promoting safety around dogs and bite prevention this week.

American Humane, American Veterinary Medical Association, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance, are also driving home the message that dog bites are a national issue and education can help prevent dog attacks.

Some tips from the Postal Service to keep their workers safe:
  • If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
  • Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
  • The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the letter carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office.

According to the CDC, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States.

More children and men are bitten, and the majority of dog-bite injuries occur at home with dogs that are familiar to them.

Some basic safety tips from the CDC.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • Curl into a ball with your head tucked and your hands over your ears and neck if a dog knocks you over.
  • Immediately let an adult know about stray dogs or dogs that are behaving strangely.
  • Approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Run from a dog.
  • Panic or make loud noises.
  • Disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Pet a dog without allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • Encourage your dog to play aggressively.
  • Let small children play with a dog unsupervised.

With these tips, everyone can learn how to prevent dog bites and reduce the risk of illness and injury.

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