PALATINE, IL — They walk the streets each day delivering America’s mail, and during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, April 9-15, northern Illinois letter carriers want to deliver a special message to the community about working together to avoid the cost and pain of dog bites.
Last year, 6,755 postal employees were victimized by dogs, an increase of 206 attacks over the previous year. But that number pales in comparison to the many children that are bitten each year.
“Even good dogs have bad days,” said postal spokesperson Sean Hargadon. “And several of our letter carriers know first-hand about the prevention and the pain of animal attacks. That’s why we want to do whatever we can to help educate the community — especially parents and pet owners.”
More than 4.5 million people are bitten annually by dogs. At the Post Offices throughout the area, there have been a number of dog incidents within the last year.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) report that small children, the elderly, and letter carriers, in that order, are the most frequent victims of dog bites. Children are the majority of victims and are 900 times more likely to be bitten than letter carriers.
“Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States,” adds Hargadon. “Dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of emergency room visits.”
The following tips will help people avoid being bitten by a dog and offer advice on how to be a responsible dog owner.
How to Avoid Being Bitten
- Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is tochase and catch you.If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact.Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, andthen 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 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.
- Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of letter carriers as a threat.
- Please take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
- Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. Humane Society of the United States (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.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.
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