Be Alert: Prevent a BITE
Dog bites are an ongoing hazard for postal employees delivering the mail. More than 5,800 letter carriers were attacked in 2019 while trying to serve customers.
“Be Alert: Prevent the BITE” is the theme for this year’s National Dog Bite Awareness Week, June 14-20, 2020.
This annual campaign educates letter carriers and dog owners of ways that can be used to deter dog attacks — and it works. The Postal Service reports dog bites for 2019 were down by more than 200 attacks from the previous year, and down by about 400 since 2017.
“The continued decline in dog attacks shows that our customer and employee outreach about dog bite safety is working,” said USPS Program Manager, Safety Awareness Christina Johnson.
Best practices Letter carriers are trained to observe an area where they know dogs may be present. They are taught to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions and to respect a dog’s territory.
Letter carriers know: → Don’t startle a dog. → Keep your eyes on the dog. → Never assume a dog won’t bite. → Call the dog’s name, if it’s known, and talk to it in a friendly manner. → Never attempt to pet or feed a dog.
If a dog attacks, the carrier is trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.
Suggestions for dog owners Dogs are loyal and often highly trained protectors of their masters and their masters’ property. They may perceive a letter carrier to be an intruder. The best way to keep safe from dog bites is to recognize and promote the responsibility of pet ownership.
A pet owner should know: → Teach your dog appropriate behavior and commands. → Don’t allow your dog to roam freely. → Socialize and help your dog become accustomed to a variety of situations and people.
Dog bite prevention tips To ensure the safety of letter carriers and your dog, here are some helpful tips to prevent dog bites and attacks:
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 get at strangers.
Parents should remind children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture and attack.
When possible, restrain your dog with a leash to establish a safe and secure distance from the letter carrier. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at the Post Office.
Keeping our pets and community safe Training, socializing and taking safety precautions with your dog can help ensure dog bites and attacks do not occur.
By David P. Coleman, Public Relations Representative, USPS
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