Trainer teaches Jackson letter carriers how to avoid dog attacks
JACKSON, MI – Postman biting dogs aren’t just a myth.
Letter carriers were attacked by a dog more than 5,800 times last year across the country, officials said. Jackson’s Elm Road Post Office suffered four attacks last year.
Hector Hernandez, a professional dog trainer, was invited to one of Jackson’s post offices for training in handling a possible dog attack.
“You have to protect yourself while you’re out there,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez advised Jackson’s carriers to stay in uniform, so owners know they’re delivering the mail. He also said to contact the owner to put his dog away upon delivery.
“You set a standard for your safety by telling them what you want, without asking them,” Hernandez said.
He showed the letter carriers how to use their equipment to defend themselves from the dog. This includes shaking their bag for distraction, spraying on dog repellant, and slowly walking away from the dog to facilitate the aggression.
Hernandez brought his dog Malo, a Dutch Shepherd, with him to help train the letter carriers. The volunteers were able to shake a satchel and demonstrate the defense skills they learned.
Some Jackson letter carriers also shared their experiences with dog bites while delivering mail on their route.
“Don’t trust dog owners, I’ve been bitten three times and every time the owner was around,” said Josh Davis, a mailman in Jackson.
Davis recalled a time when he delivered a package to a customer, where he could see a Doberman standing on a landing. After Davis handed the package to the owner, the Doberman bit him on the finger.
“Don’t always think about it just because the owner is there, he’s in control and that dog still won’t come after you,” Davis said. “They can protect the owner or be an aggressive dog who may think you are coming to the house to do something.”
While letter carriers can use their safety techniques, dog owners are also advised to follow certain guidelines for preventing dog-related injuries.
Hernandez said dog owners should get to know their dogs. He also advised owners to use films on their windows so dogs cannot see outside, as well as play ball with their pets.
“If you don’t play with your dog, dogs develop stress around their shoulders,” Hernandez said. “For a dog, he cannot drink or smoke, so he has to release this stress in a destructive way. “
Residents are advised to place their dogs in a separate room before opening their front door to receive a package. Some dogs may walk past their owners or through screen doors to attack the mailman.
Dogs should also be properly strapped on a leash away from the mailbox. If the carrier deems a residence unsafe because of a dog on a leash, mail delivery service may be discontinued.
Dog owners who use electronic fencing are advised to keep dogs tied up or indoors when the postman delivers mail. Factors can assume that the property is animal free if there is no physical fence. In addition, electric fences do not protect the carrier from attacks.
Hernandez also noted when a dog attacks a mailman, the dog’s owner could be held responsible for all medical expenses, reimbursement for lost work hours, uniform replacement and other costs.
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