Of the 4.7 million Americans bitten by dogs annually, more than half are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. Postal Service, the medical community, veterinarians and the insurance industry are working together to educate the public that dog bites are avoidable.
“‘Don’t worry — my dog won’t bite’ is often heard by our letter carriers before they’re attacked,” said Mark Anderson, postmaster of Los Angeles, where 83 of nearly 5,600 postal employees nationwide were attacked last year. “Given the right circumstances, any dog can attack. Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem. Working with animal behavior experts, we’ve developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership.”
The Postal Service is releasing its ranking of the top 25 cities for dog attacks to letter carriers to kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 19-25. The annual event provides dog-bite prevention tips, information on responsible pet ownership and advice about medical treatment if attacked.
The Postal Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), www.aap.org; the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery (ASRM), www.microsurg.org; the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), www.avma.org; the Insurance Information Institute (III), www.iii.org; and Prevent The Bite (PTB), www.preventthebite.org; are driving home the message that dog bites are a nationwide issue and that education can help prevent dog attacks to people of all ages.
Between 12 and 20 people die from dog attacks annually, according to the CDC. Just last month a Nevada toddler was mauled to death by his family pet on his first birthday.
The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. Letter carriers fearing for their safety due to a loose or unrestrained pet may stop delivery and ask homeowners to pick up their mail at the Post Office until the pet is restrained. In cases where a carrier sees a dog roaming and can’t discern where it resides, delivery could be interrupted to the entire neighborhood.
- Nationwide last year, 5,577 postal employees were attacked in more than 1,400 cities. Los Angeles topped the list with 83 postal employees attacked in 2011. Beyond the needless pain and suffering, medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service nearly $1.2 million last year.
- “Children are three times more likely than adults to be bitten by a dogs,” said PTB President Kathy Voigt, whose daughter Kelly, was mauled by a neighborhood dog. “Education is essential to keeping children safe from dog bites.” The attack prompted their creation of Prevent The Bite, a non-profit organization that promotes dog bite prevention to young children.
- AAP President Dr. Robert Block added, “Parents, please don’t ever leave a young child unsupervised around any dog, even a dog well-known to your family. Even very young children should be taught not to tease or hurt animals. And with school almost over for the year, children will be spending more time in parks, at friends’ homes, and other places where they may encounter dogs. They need to know what to do to minimize the risk of being bitten.”
- According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2011 alone more than 29,000 reconstructive procedures were performed as a result of injuries caused by dog bites. Dr. Michael Neumeister, ASRM president said, “Even the friendliest dog may bite when startled or surprised. Be cautious, once a child is scarred they are scarred for life. We hear this line all the time ‘The dog has never bitten anyone before.’ A dog’s reaction to being surprised or angered is not predictable.”
- “Any dog can bite,” said Dr. Rene Carlson, AVMA president. “If it is physically or mentally unhealthy, is in pain, feels threatened, or is protecting its food or a favorite toy, it can bite. It is important to understand how dogs behave and how our behavior may be interpreted by a dog.”
- “Dog attacks accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner insurance liability claims paid out in 2011,” said Dr. Robert Hartwig, III president and chief economist.
|Fiscal Year 2011 U.S. Postal Service Top 25 Dog Attack Rankings|
|1||Los Angeles, CA||83|
|2||San Diego, CA||68|
|6||San Antonio, TX||39|
|8||Denver, CO, and Sacramento, CA||35 each|
|9||Minneapolis, MN, and St. Louis, MO||32 each|
|11||Chicago, IL, and Philadelphia, PA||30 each|
|13||Brooklyn, NY, and Portland, OR||27 each|
|14||Baltimore, MD, and San Francisco, CA||26 each|
|15||Dayton, OH, and Detroit, MI||25 each|
|16||Cincinnati, OH; Oakland and San Jose, CA||24 each|
|17||Ft. Worth, TX||23|
|18||Buffalo, NY and Miami, FL||22|
|20||El Paso, TX and Memphis, TN||20 each|
|21||Oklahoma City, OK||19|
|22||Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Long Beach, CA; Pittsburgh, PA; Richmond, VA; and Tacoma, WA||18 each|
|23||Jamaica, NY; Milwaukee, WI, and Washington, DC||17 each|
|24||Charlotte, NC, and Orlando, FL||16 each|
|25||Baton Rouge, LA, and Rochester, NY||15 each|