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
How to be a responsible dog owner