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National dog bite prevention week

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The Ellis County Press

ELLIS AND DALLAS COUNTY- Thousands of postal employees were attacked by dogs last year, yet that pales in comparison to the 4.7 million Americans bitten annually — the majority of whom were children.  

"We often hear two tall tales at the Postal Service — ‘the check’s in the mail,’ and ‘don’t worry, my dog won’t bite’," said Delores Killette, postal service vice president and consumer advocate.

"Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. Working with animal behavior experts, we’ve developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership." To spread the word that dog bites are preventable, the Postal Service is working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, just to name a few.

  "Warm and wonderful relationships are shared between more than 72 million pet dogs and their owners in the United States," said Dr. Gail C. Golab, director of the AVMA’s animal welfare division.

"To protect those relationships, everyone must take responsibility for preventing dog bite injuries." 

To help educate the public about dog bites, the AVMA developed a brochure, "What you should know about dog bite prevention," offering tips on how to avoid being bitten, what dog owners can do to prevent their dogs from biting and how to treat dog bites.

  Tips include:  Pick a dog that is a good match for your home, consult your veterinarian for details, socialize your pet and  avoid aggressive games with your pet. To access the brochure online, visit www.avma.org/press/publichealth/dogbite/mediaki t.asp.

  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 curtail delivery and ask homeowners to pick up their mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet is restrained.

In cases where carriers see the dog roaming, delivery could be curtailed to the neighborhood.

The Postal Service offers these tips as well:

How to Avoid Being Bitten

· Don’t run past a dog.

The 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.

How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

· Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs.

· When a 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 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.

· Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.

  The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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