The old cliche about the mailman getting bitten by the dog may seem worn out, but it is still relevant in today’s society. In locations nationwide — including Texas — more than 5,500 workers for the U.S. Postal Service suffered dog bites during the past year. That number is included in the 4.5 million Americans that suffered dog bites in 2013 alone; more than 2 million of those were children.

These dog bite incidents were anything but minor. In 2013, nearly 27,000 reconstructive surgeries were performed to repair wounds obtained during dog bites. Further, insurers throughout Texas and the rest of the nation paid out a whopping $483 million for dog-bite claims, with State Farm topping the list. That insurer paid out $104 million for about 3,700 claims, according to official reports.

The good news is that insurers appear to be paying victims for their medical costs and scarring after they suffer an animal bite. The bad news, of course, is that dog bites continue to be a problem for children and older Texans. Houston leads the nation in the number of letter carriers injured; last year, 63 were bitten by dogs in that city alone.

How can you help prevent dog bites? First, make sure that your dog is kept away from the door — in another room with the door closed — when the mail carrier delivers letters. Children need to be made aware that they are not to let the dog out when the mail carrier comes. It is important to remember that a mail carrier has the right to require residents to pick up their parcels at the office if a threat exists. That is, if your dog is a safety concern at your own house, you could lose your right to direct mail. Further, dangerous dogs roaming the neighbourhood could cause the entire block to have to travel to the post office. Dog owners have the power to prevent dog bites by taking a few simple precautions.

Source:  Connecticut Post, “2013 dog-bite stats include 5,581 postal carriers” Sue Manning, Associated Press, May. 15, 2014