Nearly five million people suffer from dog bites every year. In 2007, close to 3,000 postal workers were attacked by dogs, big and small, while attempting to deliver the mail. From May 17 to May 23, the USPS will be promoting Dog Bite Prevention Week, a public service campaign designed to educate the public about the danger posed by aggressive pets.
In California, dogs on the loose could mean a trip to the post office to pick up your mail. Postal workers will often bypass houses, and even whole streets, where aggressive-looking dogs are left un-tethered.
During Dog Bite Prevention Week, the public will have access to safety tips and information regarding owner responsibility and dog bite prevention
Among the tips for dog owners:
- Take the time to give your dog obedience training, so that it will respond to your commands in the event of an approaching stranger.
- If possible, keep your dog indoors while the mail is being delivered,
- Spaying or neutering your dog can make them less aggressive. If you are not a breeder, this is a good first step.
- Make sure that your pet has the opportunity to be socialized and become used to people and animals outside the immediate household.
While the emphasis may be on dog owners, that isn't to say there aren't best practices for those coming in contact with potentially aggressive dogs. A few of these are:
- If approached by a dog, do not run. Running away from an aggressive dog can actually provoke an attack.
- Avoid eye contact. Maintaining eye contact presents a challenge to the dog.
- If you come across a dog that seems friendly, it is still best not to approach it. If you do attempt to pet it, allow it to smell you first. Try to avoid hovering over a dog as some may feel threatened by this.