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Protecting workers from the risk of dog-bite injuries

Approximately 6,000 postal workers are bitten by dogs each year, many suffering serious injuries. According to the U.S. Postal Service, San Diego is the third highest city for dog bite attacks on postal workers.

Letter carriers are not the only workers at risk of injury from dog bites. UPS drivers, lawn care professionals, pool service workers, meter readers and delivery employees may encounter aggressive dogs every time to go to a customer's home. Here are some ways workers can protect themselves from injury.

Fending off dog attacks: What works and doesn't work

Dogs are territorial and are likely to feel threatened by your presence. The more often you enter the dog's territory, the more intent it may become on driving you away.

Not all dogs will warn of an impending attack. Some animals, such as Dalmatians, are stealth biters who attack without warning. To protect yourself, keep an object between you and the animal. For a postal carrier, it may be your letter bag. For a UPS worker, it may be a package.

Keeping a object between you and the dog may cause it to back off. If it does attack, it may bite the object instead of you. In either case, back up slowly to a position of safety - either your vehicle or a fence - while keeping the object between you and the dog. If the dog clamps onto the object with its teeth, you can actually lead the dog backward. Once you reach safety, drop the object. Your health is more important than the package you were carrying.

Here are two things you should not do:

  • Run away from the animal. This will only induce the dog to chase you.
  • Carry treats for the dog. A dog who feels threatened by you is more likely to bite your hand than the offered treat.

If you are bitten by a dog

If you suffer a dog bite injury on the job in California, you are entitled to benefits from workers' compensation. However, workers' compensation benefits are limited. You can obtain additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the dog's owner. An experienced attorney can help you recover the maximum compensation from all sources.

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