Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How to Avoid a Dog Bite

Tips on how to avoid a dog bite:

If you want good advice on avoiding dog bites, ask a mail carrier.

"I always approach dogs cautiously. Even though an owner says, 'Oh, they won't [bite],' you never know," said Rafael Rivera, who has been delivering mail in Richmond for six years.

He was bitten once while putting mail into a door slot without a safety flap on the inside that would've protected his fingers. He said he didn't fault the dog because "it was taking care of the house."

Last year, more than 3,000 postal employees across the nation were bitten by dogs. Many were attacked by pets that broke free from their owners or jumped through screen or glass doors. In the Richmond district, which includes the entire state except Northern and Southwest Virginia, 24 employees were bitten in 2008.

The U.S. Postal Service is spotlighting safety this week -- National Dog Bite Prevention Week -- by offering these tips.

How to avoid being bitten
  • Don't run past a dog. Its instinct is to chase and catch prey.
  • If a dog threatens you, don't scream; avoid eye contact. Stand still until it leaves or back away slowly until it is out of sight.
  • If you think the dog is about to attack, put something between you and the dog, such as a backpack or bike.
  • Don't approach a strange dog, especially one that is tied up or confined.

How to be a responsible dog owner

  • Get obedience training for your dog to teach it proper behavior and help you control it.
  • Keep your dog inside and away from the door when the mail carrier comes.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite.

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