2013-05-16 / Local & State

May Is National Dog Bite Prevention Month

May has been designated as National Dog Bit Prevention Month. The postal service will be spreading the word about dog bite prevention all month. Last year, about 3,100 mail carriers were bitten by dogs and about 4.7 million people suffered dog bits nationally. Children are the majority of the victims and are 900 times more likely to be bitten by a dog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) report that small children, the elderly, and letter carriers, in that order, are the most frequent victims.

Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.

The AVMA also reports that the number of dog attacks exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough, and mumps, combined. Dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of emergency room visits.

The postal service isn’t anti-dog, but pro-responsibility.

Postal officials ask that you properly restrain your dog to help prevent bites. Many bites occur because owners fail to leash their animals.

The postal service is offering these tips for avoiding dog bits:

Don’t run past a dog. Tthe dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.

If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, 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.

Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dog in any situation.

When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room.

Don’t let your child take mail from the letter carrier in the presence of your dog. Your dog’s instinct is to protect the family.

Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to bite. HSUS 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.

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