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Postal service wants to stamp out dog bites

Happy National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Once again, the U.S. Postal Service — 2,863 of whose letter carriers were bitten last year — is launching its annual dog bite prevention campaign.

And that’s just part of a larger effort aimed at reducing the 4.7 million dog bites that occur each year,  mostly with youngsters as the victims.

Half of all U.S. children will be bitten by a dog by the time they’re high school seniors, says pediatrician Alison Tothy, chairwoman of the committee on injury and poison prevention of the American Academy of Pediatrics Illinois chapter.

The academy, postal service, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and several other groups have joined in the National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 16 – 22) campaign, according to UPI.

Here are the tips the Postal Service provides on avoiding dog bites.

— Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.

— If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

— Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.

— If you believe a dog is about to attack, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.

Dog owners, meanwhile, are encouraged to keep dogs inside and away from the door when the postal carrier comes, and to not let children take mail from the carrier in the presence of a dog.

(Photo: Minnesota Historical Society)


Comment from chris
Time May 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

“Half of all U.S. children will be bitten by a dog by the time they’re high school seniors”

Wait a minute, where did they get this statistic? Are they talking bites that draw blood? Need medical attention? How are they defining “bite”?

I’ve always had dogs. Even though I worked for 4 years at an animal shelter in my late high school/early college years, I was bit for my first and only time when I was 35. I was handling my neighbor’s unsocialized chow cross when he made three quick hard grabs on my wrist, forearm and hip resulting in 9 puncture wounds. OTOH, I’ve gotten skin scrapes and even a couple of puncture wounds from dogs grabbing treats too quickly from my fingers or when they’ve misjudged their grip when I was taking a tennis ball from their mouths or from young silly puppies who were still figuring out how to control their mouths. To me the difference between a bite and an “accident involving a tooth” is all about intent. The chow-mix’s goal was to put holes in me and that was a clearly a dog bite incident. The other cases, IMHO, were all pure accidents. The funny thing I’ve noticed is that dog-savvy folks can tell the difference but many non-dog-savvy folks consider all the scenarios I’ve mentioned to be dog bites.