Fremont Police’s Animal Service Department helps local mail carriers prevent dog-bites

Sabrina Sun, Entertainment Editor

Fremont mail carriers recently attended 30 minute long dog-bite prevention seminars that were held over the course of three days. The seminars were hosted by the Fremont Police’s Animal Services Department. In early January Animal Service Officers William Clark and Sarah Cattaneo conducted the workshops, which were developed at Fremont Postmaster Lali Toor’s request. Each seminar opened with a Q&A session, and elaborated on topics such as California’s bite quarantine procedure and tips on approaching aggressive animals and avoiding dog-bites. While the number of Fremont mail-carriers attacked by dogs is not officially tracked, a surprisingly large number of mail carriers reported dog bites during the seminar, signaling its necessity and benefit.

“Mail carriers are susceptible to dog bites more than the average citizen,” Cattaneo said. “Dogs are territorial by nature and mail carriers walk by the same house daily to deliver mail. Most dogs are territorial – dogs in Fremont are not unusually aggressive.”

The seminar is very similar to the USPS’s (United States Postal Service) nation-wide dog-bite prevention outreach, and both programs provided tips that would be useful for both mail carriers and non-mail carriers.

The officers provided several useful tips regarding how to interact with and defend oneself against potentially violent dogs. One of these tips taught that a sideways stance is the best way to avoid exposing one’s back to a dog while simultaneously avoiding direct eye contact, which may be interpreted by the dog as a challenge. Attendees were also advised to use any nearby physical objects, such as a clipboard or a mail bag, as a barrier in the event that a dog chooses to attack. The Animal Service Officers suggested that attendees constantly maintain caution even after a homeowner assures that a dog will not attack, as owners are often unable to fully predict and prevent acts of aggression.

In addition to this information, the seminar provided the mail carriers with resources, such as the Animal Department’s phone number, in case they encountered any aggressive animals. Through the cooperation of the two municipal government agencies, the mail carriers who attended were better prepared to deal with and prevent injuries from any territorial animals.

The local program is not directly connected to but corresponds with the USPS’s wider-ranged attempt to educate mail-carriers and prevent future attacks. The effort was spurred by a 2015 report of dog-attacks on USPS employees per city, which stated that a total of 6,549 employees had experienced a dog attack. In May 2016,  USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo visited Houston, which suffered 77 attacks, the largest number, to announce a series of dog-attack prevention measures as well as to help host National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which lasted from May 15 to May 21. The dog-attack countermeasures included the new Package Pickup application on USPS’s website, which allows customers to announce the presence of a dog prior to the package delivery. The purpose of National Dog Bite Prevention Week was to spread awareness on a national scale and educate Americans to help prevent future incidents. DeCarlo shared the following tips: place your dog in a separate room with a closed door before receiving a package, ensure that the family dog’s defensive instincts are not triggered, and remember that mail carriers have the right to avoid delivering if they feel threatened by a loose animal. The event was a joint collaboration between USPS and organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Humane Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

The Fremont Police and the Fremont Central Post Office also aimed to address the nationwide epidemic of dog-bites, continuing the USPS’s outreach on a local scale. By working closely with local Animal Control Officers and adjusting their approach to local conditions, the Fremont dog-bite prevention seminar was successful in educating, educating and empowering, local mail carriers.