HARRISBURG -- They walk the streets everyday delivering America's mail, and during National
Dog Bite Prevention Week, April 8-14, Harrisburg letter carriers want to deliver a special message to the community about working together to avoid the cost and pain of dog bites.
Last year, 6,244 postal employees were victimized by dogs. But that number pales in comparison
to the more than 2 million children who received dog bite injuries in a single year.
"That's why we're delivering this important message to the community," Harrisburg Postmaster Donna Denny said. "Several of our letter carriers know firsthand about both the prevention and the pain of animal attacks, and we want to do whatever we can to help educate the community -- especially parents and pet owners."
More than 4.5 million people are bitten annually by dogs. At the Harrisburg Post Office, there have been more than 10 dog incidents within the last year.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics report that small children, the elderly, and letter carriers, in that order, are the most frequent victims of dog bites. Children are the majority of victims and are 900 times more likely to be bitten than letter carriers.
"Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States," Denny said. "Dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of emergency room visits."
The following tips will help people avoid being bitten by a dog and offer advice on how to be a responsible dog owner.
HOW TO AVOID BEING BITTEN
Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch you. If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, and then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
Don't approach a strange dog, especially one that's tethered or confined.
While letter carriers are discouraged from petting animals, people who choose to pet dogs should always let a dog see and sniff them before petting the animal.
If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
BEING A RESPONSIBLE DOG OWNER
Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any situation.
When the letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room, or on a leash.
Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of letter carriers as a threat.
Please take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. Humane Society of the United States statistics reflect that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident than neutered or spayed dogs.
Dogs that haven't been properly socialized, receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time frequently turn into biters.