Back in April, the United States Postal Service started reminding postal workers that it is, at least for them, "dog bite season."
Every summer, dog bite injuries tend to spike as soon as the weather turns warm. In large part, that's because more dogs are outside in the first place -- with or without their owners at hand. Some may be roaming free inside fenced yards, others may be enjoying dog parks with their owners nearby, some may be on leashes for their daily walk and a few may simply have escaped the confines of their house and yard and gone roaming.
While that means everyone should be more cautious and aware of the risk of a dog bite injury during the summer, mail carriers face a unique risk. The stereotypical "joke" of a postman being chased and bitten by a family's dog isn't really much of a joke -- it actually happens for very specific reasons that are related to canine behavior.
Here's what mail carriers need to know about dog attacks:
- Dogs are very territorial and protective. They may not be able to tell the difference between someone bringing a package to the porch or door and trying to take something away. Consequently, don't approach a door that's open (even if there's a screen) if there's a dog in the house. Ask the homeowner to put the dog away before opening the door to take the package.
- Watch for children who may accidentally open a door and let the family dog out when they see the mail carrier approaching. If necessary, ask the homeowner to talk to his or her children about waiting until the mail carrier leaves to open the door.
- Do not hand anything directly to a resident when a dog is present. The dog may perceive your motion toward their human as a threat and attack in response.
- Never, ever accept a dog owner's word that the dog is friendly and won't bite. The reality is that every dog can have a "first time."
If you've been injured in a dog attack, you may be facing months of recovery and long-term emotional scars as a result. Find out more about your legal rights as soon as possible.