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Occupational Dog Bite Safety – Small Dogs & Why They Bite

By: Mitzi Robinson, President/Founder, Bulli Ray Occupational Dog Bite Safety 
Presenter 2021 VPPPA Conference Nashville

When I complete dog occupational safety training around the country, the employees are usually very concerned about the big dogs they encounter daily, but it’s the little guys that are the most prevalent. Customers/Owners aren’t as concerned with their small dogs really hurting anyone. These dogs are usually allowed to accompany the owner when speaking to the employee. Even if the employee objects, they are usually drowned out by all the reasons their perfectly safe. Employees have shared their stories with me and even though the little dog may be clamped on to their leg, the owner shows little to no concern.We need more education for the public when it comes to their dog(s). Literally thousands and thousands of people are bitten each year because of owner ignorance. We must understand that any dog can bite! Dogs don’t even necessarily need to be provoked in the traditional sense.
Dogs bite for many reasons:

  • Fear being the number one reason for the majority of attacks
  • Fear of situation that reminds them of a past trauma
  • Fear of being stepped on (another trauma)
  • Fear of whatever the dog may fear
  • Customer is telegraphing their fear of the employee, that is usually not the employee’s fault, the dog is then compelled to back up his pack member
  • The dog has not been reprimanded for biting in the past, this will encourage the dog to bite again
  • Some dogs enjoy nipping/biting strangers

http://blumberger.net/wp-json/oembed/1.0/embed?url=https://blumberger.net/672-2/ Postal Carrier and the Dachshund
In 1993, The Postal Service had two fatalities due to dog attacks. One employee was killed by a pack of dogs. Understandable, we have all heard of a person killed by a pack frenzy. The other carrier’s death shocked everyone, even I wasn’t expecting this one. This carrier died from a Dachshund bite. Yes, that’s right, it was a little Wiener/Hot Dog which only weighed 7-pounds. 

The carrier’s route included about 350 homes daily. As with most of the homes on his route he was familiar with the occupants and their Dachshund. He struck up a conversation with the owner. Unbeknownst to him, the owners 7-pound Dachshund had snuck up behind him and bit him in the back of his ankle. The owner was very apologetic and offered to call someone for help. He said no, and declined the offer thinking it was just a little bite and nothing to worry about. He resumed his route with no medical treatment. Field employees take this health risk every day. At the end of the day, another postal carrier found him in his vehicle unconscious. He called for help and they rushed him to the hospital. At the hospital, they cut off his clothes down to his knees, never seeing the bite behind his ankle. The medical staff tried to save the man’s life. Later it was determined that bacteria in the dog’s mouth had gotten into the man’s bloodstream, clotted and went to his heart, which killed him immediately. This young man was only 27 years old.

This incident was the reason USPS sought out Bulli Ray Dog Bite Safety Services. They wanted to make sure that they gave their employees the education and resources to minimize any threat to them as they encounter dogs on their routes.

Lessons learned from our training:

  • Any dog can be a threat!  Even a 7-pound dog.  Dog’s teeth are not the only harm that can come to you.
  • Do not turn your back on a dog! Even the most fearful and weakest dog will bite from behind.
  • Always back up against a barrier to protect your back! This also allows you to be able to watch the owner and the dog.
  • Don’t discount any injury and seek treatment immediately! First Aid training is a must. Do your employees know how to stop excessive bleeding, or control shock?
  • Do they know how to properly use their Adrenaline?
  • Notify your manager and animal control.
  • Avoid high Workman’s Compensation Costs
  • Train your employees, reduce your company’s risk.

It is possible with the proper training and education, that this postal carrier could be alive today!

Mitzi Robinson, Bulli Ray Enterprises, LLC, www.bulliray.com

Jacqueline "Jackie" Annis is an industrial hygienist with the Office of Partnerships and Recognition, Directorate of Cooperative and State Programs in OSHA’s National Office.  Jackie’s primary responsibilities include developing and overseeing internal policies and procedures for the VPP, reviewing VPP on-site evaluation reports for process safety management information, serving as the National Office liaison for two of OSHA’s ten Regions, and facilitating the management of OSHA’s National Strategic Partnership Program.  She is an integral part of OSHA’s National Office team. 

She has served with the Agency for 36 years, including five years as a senior industrial hygienist in OSHA’s Office of Health Enforcement, Directorate of Enforcement Programs in the National Office and 17 years as a compliance safety and health officer in the Denver, CO Area Office.  Prior to her tenure at OSHA, Jackie worked as an industrial hygienist for the Department of the Navy in Alameda, California.  Jackie obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA in 1983.

Wayne Howard earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UC Davis and has spent 12 years with Shell (at Martinez) refinery, 3 years with the consulting firm Process Safety, 15 years with Valero (at Benicia), and the last 10 years in the Corporate Process Safety Department. He is the Valero representative to AFPM's Advancing Process Safety Initiative.

Nathan Obaugh, PE is a senior engineer in the Safety and Operational Excellence Group at NuStar Energy. Nathan has over 10 years of PSM and process design experience in the petrochemical, refining and midstream industries. At NuStar, Nathan oversees all elements of the corporate PSM program and works directly on hazard analysis, process safety studies, PSM/RMP audits and provides process engineering support to the operations and capital projects groups.

Jared Teter, PhD is a senior staff scientist with a background in physics and hazards analysis. He has extensive experience in subscale testing of energetic materials and has served as program manager for several large testing and risk management projects. He has applied engineering and risk management protocols while evaluating the risk associated with propellant and explosives manufacturing, combustible dust, and other hazardous material related processes.

Tim Belitz has a degree in Environmental Health/Industrial Hygiene from Old Dominion University and a Master’s from Duke University. He has over 25 years of Industrial Health Safety and Environmental Experience and is a Certified Safety Professional. He has many years focused on Contractor Management and Process Safety programs.

Rob Walker graduated from Virginia Tech in Microbiology and Chemical Engineering. Rob has almost 35 years of experience working in the chemical plant and refining industry. His passion for Process Safety and Mechanical Integrity began very early in his career. Rob began with his current company, Honeywell, back in 2011.

Prasad Joshi has B.S. and M.S. Degrees in Chemical Engineering from two universities in India. Prasad has over 30 years’ experience in the business. He began with Honeywell in May 2022 as Principal Maintenance Engineer. He has worked internationally in Asia and Europe.