The U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of calling attention to one of the nation's most commonly reported public health problems: dog attacks and bites. Dog bites can range from a relatively painless nip to a fatal mauling.
Sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, National Dog Bite Prevention Week May 19-25 is a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the need for increased pet owner responsibility in the prevention of dog attacks. Last year, nearly 5,600 Postal Service employees were victimized by dogs.
For decades, the U.S. Postal Service has taken a leadership role in preventing animal attacks because letter carriers are the third most likely group to be bitten by a dog. Children and the elderly rank number one and two, respectively. Most people think children and dogs go together naturally, and they often do, but it may shock you to learn that children are victims of dog bites.
Here are some facts and figures related to dog bites and attacks:
- More than 4.5 million people are attacked annually.
- Children are the majority of victims.
- Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.
- The number of dog attacks exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough, mumps, combined.
- Many of the recordable bites came from dogs whose owners used those famous last words "my dog won't bite."
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, and then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
- Don't approach a strange dog, especially one that's tethered or confined.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
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.
- 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.
To schedule a presentation for your community, club or group on how the Postal Service brings the Post Office to your home or office computer, call 239-573-9638.
Mr. Zip's Tip: usps.com is one of the most frequently visited government sites.
Debra Mitchell is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.