Twelve Helpful Hints to Avoid Your Child Being Attacked by a DogAuthor: James Parrish
Victims who are bitten or attacked by dogs or other animals can experience a great deal physical and mental stress and injury. This holds particularly true for kids and those employed as parcel shipping and postal service letter carriers throughout the United States. On an average day, up to 10 letter carriers suffer from dog related injuries. Nationwide, more than 4.0 million people suffer from dog related injuries each year and of those, children are the most commonly victimized. The next largest groups of those bitten are the elderly and postal service letter carriers. Each such class represents a disproportionately large cluster of citizens who are victimized by dog attacks and bites. The very large number of dog bite-type injuries has become one of the most commonly reported public safety concerns in modern day America.
If you're not a letter carrier or the parent of a child, you may be wondering how this issue affects you. Dog bite awareness is important to everyone in the general public and especially to dog owners because each year municipalities are enacting stronger laws assuming greater liabilities designed to penalize owners who cannot manage their dogs responsibly. Even if you are the owner of a family pet and believe strongly that your dog could never harm anyone, experts suggest the psychological relationship between letter carriers and the dogs that bite and attack them is in fact deeply rooted. Dogs frequently believe they are successfully protecting their homes and owners by exhibiting aggressive tendencies towards delivery personnel, who leave the dog's property after being confronted with such behavior. Over time, dogs establish dominance of and experience increased confidence with persons viewed as intruders on their property. But if that dog gets loose, there's a good chance it may attack and injure someone.
Dog ownership carries a number of responsibilities and potential liabilities for actions of and injuries caused the animal; especially in neighborhoods where an owner knows that children may be present and certainly that letter carriers travel by foot daily. Dog owners have a responsibility to their community to do everything in their power to ensure that their pets are properly socialized and if any aggressive behavior is shown by the animal, it is essential that the dog is safely and securely maintained. An owner should never allow their dog to be presented with a new situation where it is unclear how the animal will react. It is in these situations where even one moment of carelessness may cause life-threatening injuries to children and liability to others such as postmen for the victim's pain, suffering, and medical expenses.
There is a wealth of written information available for individuals to educate themselves about responsible dog ownership, including the risks associated with a dog bite on a child and other people in your neighborhood. Teach your dog appropriate behavior for every situation. For example, owners should refrain from playing aggressive games with their dogs such as wrestling and tug of war, and discourage their children from doing the same. This type of play in fact mimics a dog's natural instinct to run down prey and assert his dominance, which could lead to a serious dog attack. In order to prevent injury, it is essential that your dog recognizes family members as dominant figures whose authority should never be challenged. Sadly, many instances of dog bites in children and mailmen are preventable.
Below are some helpful tips issued by the United States Postal Service to help make your neighborhood safe for the letter carrier, yourself, and the children who live there.
Dog Bite Prevention Tips for Letter Carriers and Children:
1. Find out what time the carrier usually brings your mail.
2. When the carrier is due to visit your house, check to be sure your dog is inside. Keep the dog inside until the letter carrier is gone.
3. If someone needs to open the door to sign for a letter, first put the dog in another room and close the door securely.
4. If you have a mail slot, keep your dog away from it so the carrier's fingers don't get bitten.
5. If your mailbox is inside your fenced yard and so is your dog, keep the dog on a reinforced leash that is away from the mailbox during the time your letter carrier delivers the mail.
6. When you and your dog are outside, never walk up to the postman and ask for your mail. Your dog may think you are being threatened and attack or bite.
7. Report dogs running at large to your local authorities as soon as possible. If you are a child, tell your parents and don't follow after the animal in any circumstance.
8. Never, ever approach a strange dog that you don't know. Remember: if there is no owner, than there is no petting. When you approach a dog with its owner, make sure it is on a leash. In that case, never reach your hand out to pet the animal until after asking the owner's permission (and if you are a child, your parents' permission as well) to let the dog sniff you first, and then allow you to pet him.
9. If a strange dog comes near you, stand like a tree, or if you are on the ground, curl up your legs, cup your hands over your ears and lay still like a rock!
10. Never run away from a dog that is chasing you. Instead, stop and stand still with your arms at your sides, try to be very calm and quiet, do not scream or make any loud noises, and walk away very slowly while facing the dog, but never looking at it directly in the eyes. Children especially must learn that they should not stare at a dog in his eyes.
11. Don't ever go near a dog that is in a car, behind a fence, or tied up — even if you know him.
12. Finally, teach your children that all dogs may bite, even your own dog; and that dog bites can be very dangerous and sometimes even deadly to children.
We certainly hope this information helps children and others avoid being bitten and teaches dog owners some easy strategies for safe handling of their pets.