This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week to remind homeowners to corral their dogs so they don?t bite mail carriers.
Letter carriers were bitten 6,244 times in 2017 according to the United States Postal Service. That number is 500 lower than the total for 2016.
?We?re encouraged by the decrease in dog attacks,? said U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo in San Diego, where postal employees suffered 46 attacks ? the fifth ranked city in 2017.
?The totals are still too high, but we?re confident that with continuing education and dog bite prevention training, along with advancing technology, we can keep more people safe and keep attacks trending downward.?
Enhancing Employee Safety
DeCarlo highlights USPS safety measures that alert mail carriers to dogs on their delivery routes. The Package Pickup application on usps.com asks customers to indicate if there are dogs at their addresses when they schedule package pickups.
This information is provided to carriers on their delivery scanners which send alerts if an unleashed dog is reported in a delivery area.
?The scanners that our carriers use to confirm a customer?s delivery include a feature for them to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address,? said DeCarlo.
?This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off.?
If a 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. Some dogs burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the person handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If a dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner?s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area?s Post Office.
American Humane, the country?s first national humane organization, estimates that more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year with 800,000 seeking medical attention for these bites ? more than half of them being children.
?Two-thirds of the injuries occurring in children four years or younger are to the head or neck region, and studies have also shown that the greatest percentage of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children and unsupervised newborns left with dogs ? something that should never occur,? said Mark Stubis, chief communications officer, American Humane.
?To help, American Humane offers a free online booklet, ?Pet Meets Baby,? with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet ? or a new pet into a home with a child available for families with children.?
Insurance company State Farm reports that in 2017, it paid more than $132 million as a result of 3,618 dog-related injury claims. The average cost paid per claim was $36,573. ?State Farm is also one of the few insurance companies that does not exclude homeowner or renter insurance coverage because of the breed of dog owned,? said Heather Paul, State Farm public affairs specialist. ?The company reinforces that responsible pet ownership and educating children about how to safely interact with dogs is key to reducing dog bites.?
?Veterinarians see firsthand the needless heartbreak a dog bite can cause,? said Dr. Mike Topper, AVMA President.
?We know that dog bites are not a breed-specific issue and that any dog can bite. We also know that most bites can be prevented through education. Your veterinarian and the AVMA have extensive resources designed to keep your pup, no matter what their breed, a happy, healthy member of your family and community.?