They may be considered man’s best friend, but this is not always the case. A recent study released by the U.S. Postal Service ranked Louisville as the fifth worst city for mail carrier dog bites. These attacks leave room for one big question: Are dog owners doing everything they can to keep visitors, mail carriers or not, safe from an attack?
The startling report released last month to coincide with National Dog Bite Prevention Week showed that 6,549 employees were attacked by dogs in 2015. Louisville’s attacks alone increased 28 percent from 40 dog bites in 2014 to 51 last year.
Louisville mailman Bruce Parson, who never had a bad experience with a dog prior, was caught up in the powerful jaws of an aggressive pit bull while on his route last August. “I tried to get the fence between me and the dog,” Parson told the Courier-Journal.
He attempted to run out of the front yard when the massive animal broke through the back fence, but he was too late. The pit bull lunged at Parson’s face, biting his nose and mouth. “The dog just kept coming.” Parson required 30 stitches to his face.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4.7 million dog-bite incidents occur in the United States each year. 386,000 of these victims require emergency medical treatment. The Canine Journal also attests to 75 percent of dog bites occur on the victim’s property, with victims being aware of the dog responsible for the attack.
“People don’t know what the damage of a dog bite — big or small — or an attack will do,” Parson said. “Some don’t realize those injuries can be permanent.”
Kentucky is considered a strict liability state, which means that in case of an attack, dog owners are liable for all damages to a person, livestock, and other property, including a victim’s pet. This rings true for landlords who permit tenants to have dogs, regardless of whether or not the landlord knows of a dog’s dangerous manners.
Here are multiples ways homeowners can keep any visitor safe from a dog attack and themselves out of trouble.
Post Warning Signs
Many dog owners take the liberty of posting warning signs in and around their property when their dog is known to roam outside. This is the best visual sign that’ll alert visitors and passersby that there is a dog on the premises. “Even a friendly dog can sometimes perceive someone coming on to their property as a threat,” Susan Wright, a USPS spokeswoman in Louisville, told the Paducah Sun.
Put the Dog in Another Room
If you know your dog to be aggressive near strangers, put the dog in another room as to avoid any confrontation with visitors, according to the USPS. Make sure to close the door before opening the front door to let visitors into your home. While you may enjoy your dog’s presence, safety is the utmost importance. Simply putting your pet in a room away from guests can save you a headache — you and your visitors can rest easy and enjoy one another’s company without fearing an attack.
Secure Your Dog
The USPS also suggests that if putting your pet in another room is not an option, the second best thing to do is to safely secure it using a leash or harness. Secure your dog to a fairly heavy object that he/she is incapable of moving or escaping from and keep it away from the visitor’s vision. If the dog sees a stranger while secured, it may grow aggressive and attempt to attack.
Notify Visitors Of Your Pet
The USPS has given its mail carriers the rights to refuse delivery if they feel threatened on a resident’s property. This means dog owners may be asked to pick up their mail at the local post office until the carrier is assured that the dog has been restrained. If you have a visitor or package delivery scheduled, it is wise to notify them before their arrival so they are aware there is an animal on the property.
Man’s best friend may not always prove friendly and dog bite injuries are likely to continue. In the past, our attorneys at Morgan & Morgan have successfully handled claims on behalf of dog bite victims. It is important to contact us to learn more about your legal options if you have been a victim of a dog attack, and our no-fee consultation may be the first step towards establishing your case.