BITTEN: Pit bulls and public safety

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On Friday, Jan. 17, an experienced female Coeur d’Alene letter carrier was attacked and severely mauled by a pit bull while attempting front door mail service. The dog was indoors but emerged from the door when opened by the resident. The carrier received approximately 200 stitches in her face and another 100 stitches to repair bite wounds to her arm and torso through winter clothing.

According to DogsBite.org, pit bulls are six percent of the dog population, but account for 78 percent of attack fatalities nationally. Twenty-five deaths in the year 2013, one every 18.6 days, 56 percent were children. There is a severe injury or maiming every two and a half days.

Locally, I learned that a man was severely bitten in the face by a pit bull on a leash in Coeur d’Alene about six months ago. The dog was apparently on his second officially reported biting offense — which means that he should have been muzzled when out of his yard. The man’s painful wounds must be completely healed before the next phase of plastic surgery can be performed, which has not yet happened.

Many cities have state Supreme Court-upheld bans on pit bulls, others have licensing and insurance mandates, and proactive measures for dog owners. It is time for Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County to likewise enact laws to protect our citizens (as well as the dogs) before more traumatic incidents occur.

If you own a potentially dangerous dog of any kind — keeping in mind that dogs respond differently to their owners than to strangers approaching their territory — please post warnings and keep vigilant control of your dog when answering the door. Do not leave this task to young children! Educate children and neighbors about potentially dangerous animals. Also, please consider dog obedience training.

As a senior letter carrier, I have met hundreds of wonderful, friendly dogs, and a few bad ones. I realize this is a difficult problem to solve, but I believe we can improve the odds. Please be aware and be proactive.

JIM MATHEY

USPS Letter Carrier

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