Over 2,800 mailmen bitten by dogs in US

June 18th, 2010 - 10:56 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, June 18 (IANS) Mailmen in the US have become the worst targets of dogs and over 2,800 of them were bitten by canines in America in 2009, latest statistics say.
Most of the mailmen bitten by dogs were delivering mail in Los Angeles and Orange County areas, the figures released by the US Postal Service (USPS) said.

“It’s really tragic, a thing that every letter carrier dreads,” Drew Von Bergen, spokesman for the National Association of Letter Carriers, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Unfortunately, there’s hardly a letter carrier who has not been involved in some dog incident, he said.

Letter carrier Hao Yun “Eddie” Lin was working overtime covering his co-worker’s Oceanside mail route in San Diego, California, when he was attacked May 25 by a dog. Nine days later, 33-year-old Lin, a father of three, died with a head wound.

Mail carriers are not the only victims. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 4.7 million dog bites occur annually in the US, with approximately 60 percent of the victims being children.

Each year, 16 Americans die from their dog-bite injuries, and more than 300,000 people visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment of dog bites, according to the US Centre for Disease Control.

Dog bites not only occur in the streets, but even at the White House. Two years ago, Barney, the dog of former president George W. Bush, bit a reporter.

According to an attorney representing mail carriers in dog-attack cases, California law allows dog owners to be held liable for bites in criminal and civil courts.

“Animals are naturally territorial, and people like letter carriers, meter readers and pool repairmen run a big risk because animals want to protect their property,” attorney David Beeson said.

“In a postman’s situation, he drops off the mail, the dog acts aggressively, and he leaves. So the dog is trained that if he acts more aggressively, he’ll go away,” he said.

“Here you have somebody just doing their job, and families rely on them doing their job. When something like this happens, it’s devastating,” he added.

The USPS has joined hands with six agencies, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), to develop tips on how to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, practising responsible pet ownership.

USPS offices in many cities now hold daily seminars in the mornings before dispatching carriers to share tips on reading canine posture, avoiding eye contact and placing their mail satchel between them and dogs.

“We really make a big deal about it here because dog bites are a daily threat for our letter carriers, especially as the weather warms up and dogs are more apt to bite,” Kinston postmaster Al Brantley said.

Brantley has been bitten by dogs 10 times during his 20 years with the USPS.

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