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May 20-26: National Dog Bite Prevention Week

There’s the old adage: ?dogs are man’s best friend,? but there’s one demographic who might beg to differ.

“You hear everything about the mailman, how the dogs hate the mailman,” said Jeff Shepherd, who has been delivering mail in Idaho Falls for 15 years.

It?s a comical clich, which can present a real danger.

“You’re always aware out there,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd?s most recent incident was last week.

“I had a dog jump over a fence,? he recalled. ?He was just 10 feet away from me — like right there — and I wasn’t expecting him.”

Shepherd was fine. He used his satchel as a barrier; something letter carriers are trained to do in that type of scenario.

If the bag doesn’t work, they can whip out their can of dog spray.

Sometimes a dog situation can get so bad, that letter carriers can stop delivering mail to an entire block. That’s exactly what happened in one Idaho Falls neighborhood several years ago, thanks to a chronic ankle-biter.

“You can’t not deliver the mail,? Shepherd said. ?But you know if the animal’s out, then they don’t get their mail.”

Once people found out that one dog was keeping them from getting their mail, the owner got the picture and put the pooch inside.

The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests all dog owners should be wary of their animals? behavior, to keep communities safe.

The AVMA also recommends socializing, training, exercising and neutering your dog to tone down the aggression. If the dog is outside, use a leash or keep the animal in a securely fenced-in area.

Make sure your dog is current on vaccinations in the event of a bite, unless you’d rather not get your mail.

“There are some that are more notorious homes in the city, that pretty much everyone in the office is aware of, and will avoid,” Shepherd said.

About 800,000 people receive medical attention each year for a dog bites. Four hundred thousand of them are children.

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