To the Editor:
A dog might be a man’s best friend, but is it a letter carrier’s? Warmer temperatures mean children playing, letter carriers delivering, and dogs barking. Most dogs are safely behind a fence or on a leash. However, there are some situations when a dog can be potentially dangerous.
Several of our letter carriers know first-hand about the prevention and pain of animal attacks, and we want to help educate the community – especially during National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten annually by dogs. Last year, 5,600 postal employees were victimized by dogs across the country. And more than 2 million children receive dog bite injuries each year. Small children, the elderly and letter carriers, in that order, are the most frequent victims of dog bites.
Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States. Dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of emergency room visits.
So what can you do to avoid being bitten? 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. 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.
What can a responsible dog owner do to keep the community safe? Take your dog to obedience training. It can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any situation. When the letter carrier comes to your home, please keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room, or on a leash.
To learn more about National Dog Bite Prevention Week, ask your letter carrier, contact your local post office, or visit www.avma.org.