U.S. Postal Service provides tips to prevent dog bites

From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to U.S. Postal Service employees.

The postal service reports the number of dog attacks and bites together are the biggest threat to mail carriers. Last year, 6,244 postal service employees suffered injuries by dogs.

Sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, National Dog Bite Prevention Week is a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the need for increased owner responsibility in the prevention of dog attacks.

Dog bite prevention background and tips

The Victims

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year. Over half of all dog bite injuries occur at home with dogs who are familiar with their victims.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of emergency room visits. As many as 800,000 people annually are admitted to U.S. emergency rooms with dog bite-associated injuries, and countless more bites go unreported and untreated.
  • AVMA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report that small children, the elderly and letter carriers are the most frequent victims. Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.
  • Children are the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured. Among children, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for those 5 to 9 years old. Most dog bites affecting young children happen during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Last year, many attacks reported by letter carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly used the phrase, “My dog won’t bite.”

Avoid being bitten

  • Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase people who run.
  • If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain still 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.
  • 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.
  • If a dog is about to attack, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.

Be a responsible dog owner

  • Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any situation.
  • When a letter carrier comes to the home, keep dogs:
    • Inside the house or behind a fence,
    • Away from the door,
    • In another room, or
    • On a leash.
  • Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of letter carriers as a threat. Take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
  • Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied-up for long periods frequently turn into biters.