This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. For anyone thinking that is not such a big deal, consider that 4.7 million Americans annually are bitten by dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dog bites are especially a concern for Postal Service letter carriers. Nearly 5,000 carriers were attacked last year. Countless other delivery personnel and outside workers face a daily theat of an encounter with a dog that may bite.
According to a spokesman for State Farm, the insurer paid out $1.5 million for 51 claims in Maryland in 2012. In Pennsylvania, there were 165 dog bite cases with a total claim of $4.5 million. West Virginia saw 16 State Farm claims with a payout of $465,000. And, consider, that is for just one of many insurance companies that insure against situations like dog bites.
As for the Postal Service, if it deems a dog to be a threat to the carrier, it may require the customer to pick up mail at the Post Office rather than have it delivered.
“Many dogs are cherished members of their family and people believe their dog won’t bite, but given the right circumstances, any dog can attack. Dogs do not reason like people do and they will react to their instinct to protect their family and territory,” a Postal Service spokesman said. The service offers these tips on how to be a responsible dog owner:
• Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs in any situation.
• Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of a letter carrier as a threat. Please take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
• When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash.
• Dogs that haven’t been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods frequently turn into biters.