MASON, Mich. — Dogs attacking postal workers is not just a sitcom stereotype. In fact, Michigan ranked No. 8 in the country for postal worker dog bite attacks in 2022, according to U.S. Postal Service. That is higher than Michigan ranked the previous year at No. 10, and Detroit landed the No. 10 spot for most dog attacks for cities in the United States last year.
Ingham County isn't stranger to dog bites either. According to Ingham County Animal Control Sgt. Adam Meisling, in 2022, animal control officers responded to just under 600 animal bites calls, and in 2023, the county is on par to break 600 attacks.
"Typically, how it works is we will receive a fax notification from mandatory reporters, that being urgent cares, or ER's, or hospitals that sort of thing. Then we get a call to our dispatcher who then writes up the call and the animal control officers go out and respond," said Meisling.
The county also has specific ordinances to help keep residents safe.
"Another thing that we notice as animal control officers is there's major correlation between dog-at-large violations and dog bites. So if you see dogs running at-large in your area, it's very beneficial for you to call us for the dog-at-large violation. Because, if we develop a history with a certain dog, it can help us take more progressive measures," said Meisling.
A dog-at-large refers to a dog not under control of it's owners. Meaning any dog off leash, roaming the streets or simply that the animal will not listen to the owner and is reacting negatively toward another person or animal.
"When we go out for a dog bite, we make contact for the victim first, we document any injuries that they suffered, anything that broke skin that needed medical treatment, we figure out where they went to forward that information to the health department. Once we finish taking their statement, determine if they want the do quarantined, or if they don't want our involvement, we will go talk to the dog owners, who then give us their side of the story," Meisling said.
The dog is then placed under a 10-day quarantine where animal control will monitor the dog's behavior and check for any sign of rabies. However, no dog has exhibited signs of rabies since Meisling was born. All Michiganders are required by state law to have up-to-date rabies' shots for their pets.
"If the victim chooses, we can pursue criminal charges. It is a misdemeanor offense for your dog to bite somebody in Ingham County. It's under our Ingham County Animal Control Ordinance," Meisling said.
Ingham County Animal Control does not have any exact statistic on dogs biting postal workers.
"It's a tough metric for us to track, just on basic preliminary looking into it. It happens, but we don't have a specific number. I know that I have personally responded to quite a few over the last three years," he said.
However, dog bites in the county can be an every day occurrence.
"It's definitely kind of a shocking report for sure, but day-to-day here in Ingham County on any giving day, and if it's involving just a regular citizen or a postal worker, it's not really the forefront of my mind I just kind of responding to the calls I get and trying to help the victim in anyway I can," Meisling said.
Caring Animal Hospital in Holt provides resources and classes to pet owners so they can avoid dog bites.
"Dogs speak with their body. Many warning signs are given before they bite," the hospital said in a statement.
Residents can avoid dog bites by taking alternate routes, if they are familiar with stray dogs or dogs at-large in the area, and be on the look out for beware of dogs signs.
Signs such as a bristled tail, nose and forehead wrinkled and lips curled with their teeth and gums showing can be indicative of a dog potentially attacking.
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