Education and Cooperation Key to Lower Dog Bite Incidents

May 20, 2010


Greenfield, WI — For every letter carrier bitten, hundreds of children needlessly suffer the pain and trauma of dog bites. Whatever the reasons, dog bites are a serious problem for the entire community, and not just our letter carriers. Letter Carriers suffered almost 3000 dog bites last year. That’s an average of 11 dog attacks every delivery day, and that figure does not include the number of threatening incidents that did not result in injury. These numbers pale in comparison with the more than 4.7 million people — mostly children and the elderly — who suffer injuries from dog attacks each year. “Last year, in Lakeland District – which is most of the state of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - dogs bit 30 letter carriers and interfered with a significant number of mail deliveries, “ said Greenfield Manager Julie Joers.


Fortunately, most dog bites can be prevented through responsible pet ownership. If a letter carrier needs to deliver a certified letter or a package to you, put your dog into a separate room before opening your front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers. The number of carriers bitten by dogs has declined over the years. This is because of greater cooperation from dog owners, stricter leash laws, and stepped-up efforts to educate letter carriers and the public about dealing with the problem.


Joers added, “Our letter carriers are vigilant and dedicated, but we may be forced to stop mail delivery at an address if a letter carrier is threatened by a vicious dog.” In some instances, Postal Service employees have sued and collected damages for dog bite injuries. We can’t control people’s dogs; only dog owners can do that. While some attribute attacks on letter carriers to dogs’ inbred aversion to uniforms, experts say the psychology actually runs much deeper. Every day that a letter carrier comes into a dog’s territory, the dog barks and the letter carrier leaves. Day after day the dog sees this action repeated. After a week or two, the dog appears to feel invincible against intruders. Once the dog gets loose, there’s a good chance it will attack. “Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. We also recommend parents ask their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers. A dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture,” said Joers. These simple reminders and helpful tips can reduce the hazard of dog bite attacks.



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