You’ve of course been warned about the danger of dog bites while on the job, but since National Dog Bite Awareness Week has just passed, we thought we’d give you some facts and tips about dealing with dogs.
The first thing to remember while you’re out working is that any dog is capable of biting. Maybe it’s a tiny, furry puppy, a large, angry dog, or a dog that has been friendly with you before. Never forget that any dog can bite, and so be wary whenever you see dogs on your route.
The next thing to keep in mind is that no matter the injury, it needs to be reported and you need to be checked out. Maybe the dog barely nicked your skin, and maybe it actually attacked you. No matter the case, you have to be safe and get the bite looked at. Thousands of people are bitten by dogs each year, though luckily only a small amount of those people die because of it. Be safe, and get the bite checked if you get one.
Of course the goal is to not get any dog bites, so how do you do this? Well you’ll want to stay away from any dogs you see. Be aware. Listen for any unusual growling. Keep an eye on fences in yards. Even dogs on leashes can be dangerous so be sure to be cautious.
If a dog does start to approach, stay still and quiet. Running away or yelling is only going to rile the dog up. Back away slowly and keep an eye on the dog to see if it follows. If it attacks, your best defense is to fend it off with your mail satchel. Keep it between you and the dog as much as you can. You can of course use dog repellant, but try to get the bag in front of you first. It gives more protection in case you miss the dog.
And if the dog does get you on the ground, protect your head and neck. Curling into a ball gives the dog less places to bite.
Don’t forget that if you feel threatened by a dog on a property, you do not have to deliver the mail to said property. The owner of the dog can pick up mail at the post office until it is guaranteed the dog is kept somewhere where it cannot attack. If the dog is regularly unleashed, you can even stop delivering to the area altogether. Your safety is your top priority.
6,755 postal employees were attacked by dogs this year. That number has continued to rise throughout the years, making it even more important now to stay vigilant. If you’re still worried about dog bites, check to see if there’s any training in your area, or ask your supervisor and other letter carriers for additional tips.
If you want something with you in case of an attack, check out our letter carrier safety products on our website!