Think dog bites are funny? Your mail carrier doesn't agree

Wednesday , April 12, 2017 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

It’s a staple of cartoons and comic strips — a mail carrier running frantically from a dog, legs whirling in a cloud of dust.

But there’s nothing funny about dog bites.

Just ask the 6,755 postal employees attacked by dogs in 2016.

  • RELATED: “Utah's postal carriers are asking you to restrain your dog when they deliver mail”

National Dog Bite Prevention Week runs April 9 through 15. And it’s not just an issue for the U.S. Postal Service.

Dogs bite more than 4.5 million people a year, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports. About 800,000 require medical attention — and half of them are children, who suffer the most dog bites.

Seniors, by the way, rank No. 2.

Two vulnerable populations. Thousands of dog bites. And immeasurable pain.

No wonder the AVMA calls dog bites a public health crisis.

Mail carriers face threats from aggressive dogs every day, said USPS District Manager Darrell Stoke.

“There’s a myth our carriers often hear: Don’t worry, my dog won’t bite,” Stoke told Jessica Kokesh, a reporter for the Standard-Examiner. “Any dog can bite and all attacks are preventable through responsible pet ownership.”

USPS statistics show 30 Utah mail carriers suffered dog bites in 2016. The total so far this year is already 12.

The Postal Service doesn’t mess around. If a carrier feels threatened by your dog, you may be asked to temporarily pick up your mail at a post office.

And if your dog is roaming the neighborhood, your carrier may suspend delivery for the entire block, forcing your neighbors to get their mail at the post office, too.

Nobody wants that. Nobody wants to pick up the tab for medical expenses after their dog bites someone, either. But it’s your dog; ultimately, you’re responsible for its behavior.

If you’ve got an aggressive dog, the AVMA recommends a training or socialization program.

The Postal Service suggests more immediate measures, such as closing your dog in another room during package and mail deliveries to your door.

There’s nothing funny about dog bites. Take control of your pet today, before somebody gets seriously hurt.

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