SALT LAKE CITY — Two seconds. That’s all the notice Salt Lake Cottonwood Letter Carrier Norm Frye had before a pit bull knocked him to the ground and sank its teeth into his thigh, shin and thumb. Fortunately for Frye his supervisor, Karl J. Lopez, was with him that day, and he ran the dog off using Frye’s helmet and pepper spray, which fell off during the encounter.
“He pretty much saved my life, said Frye, of Lopez’ actions. “Once you're on the ground you're very vulnerable. It shakes you to the core. It’s not something I will forget.”
Frye wasn’t alone in his painful experience with an unrestrained dog. Last year 41 Utah letter carriers were bitten by dogs while delivering the mail – an increase of seven bites from the year prior. Of the 41 who suffered dog bites, 14 resulted in medical attention beyond first-aid.
“Our letter carriers often hear the words ‘don’t worry, my dog won’t bite’,” said USPS Salt Lake District Manager Ken McArthur. “Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. So we’re asking pet owners to please restrain their dogs and allow their letter carriers to deliver the mail safely.”
The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. Letter carriers fearing for their safety due to a loose or unrestrained pet may curtail delivery and ask homeowners to pick up their mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet is restrained. In cases where carriers see the dog roaming, delivery could be curtailed to the neighborhood.
Fortunately dog bite injuries can be prevented through responsible pet ownership and education. The Postal Service offers these tips.
How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner
- Obedience training can teach dogs’ proper behavior and help owners control their dogs.
- When a carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door in another room.
- 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. Humane Society statistics show that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to bite.
- Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.
- For more information, visit the Humane Society’s web site at nodogbites.org
May 16-22 is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Nationwide, 2,863 letter carriers were attacked by dogs last year. That number, however, pales in comparison to the 4.7 million Americans bitten annually – most of whom are children.
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A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation, 150 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no direct support from taxpayers. With 36,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government, the Postal Service relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses. Named the Most Trusted Government Agency five consecutive years and the sixth Most Trusted Business in the nation by the Ponemon Institute, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $68 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 28th in the 2009 Fortune 500.