NALC Director of Safety & Health Brian Hellman urges NALC branches to alert members that as spring arrives, dogs are outside more often. Now is the time to include dog bite awareness information in your safety and health awareness program.

Letter carrier displays scars from dog attack

Hellman says the members need to be reminded that preventing dog bites is important to the safety and health of every letter carrier, every day. As soon you get out on the street, you are immediately exposed to potential harm from dangerous animals. Remember, in many instances, carriers are badly wounded despite pet owners’ insistence the their dog would never bite anyone.

The Humane Society of the United States reports that small children, the elderly, and USPS Letter Carriers — in that order — are the most frequent victims of dog bites. In fact, recent statistics show the annual number of dog attacks exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough, and mumps combined. Dog Bite victims account for up to five percent of emergency room visits.

Medical expenses, workers’ compensation, legal costs, delivery curtailment, carrier replacement, and other costs associated with dog bite accidents are estimated to exceed $25 million annually for the Postal Service. The cost in employee pain and suffering cannot be measured.

Helpful Tips to Prevent Dog Bites

Tips to help letter carriers:

How to avoid being bitten
Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.
If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact.
Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
While letter carriers are discouraged from petting animals, people who choose to pet dogs should always let a dog see and sniff them before petting the animal.

Tips for dog owners:

How to be a responsible dog owner
Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any situation.
When the letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room, or on a leash.
Don’t let your child take mail from the letter carrier in the presence of your dog. Your dog’s instinct is to protect the family.
Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. HSUS statistics reflect 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.
Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.

© National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO 
Click to order my free book on Dog Bite Attacks.
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