Coalition Formed to Reduce Dog Bites in Winnipeg

By Tyler Sutherland

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling

A new coalition has been formed to educate Winnipeggers on preventing dog bites to door-to-door workers.

On Wednesday, the City of Winnipeg partnered with Canada Post, Manitoba Hydro and the Winnipeg Humane Society to promote a safer environment, not only for letter carriers and utility workers, but for all Manitobans.

According to the Canada Safety Council, about 460,000 dog bites occur each year in the country. Any bite that breaks the skin requires medical examination and possibly rabies shots.

The city’s Animal Services Agency reported 242 incidents involving a dog biting a person in 2009.

“Many factors come into play in determining whether a dog is going to bite a person,” said Leland Gordon, COO of the City of Winnipeg Animal Services. “It is incredibly important that dog owners properly socialize their dogs and make them part of the family. A dog well-socialized with various types of people and animals is less apt to bite. We encourage dog owners to visit one of the 13 city dog parks for socialization opportunities. Being bit by a dog can be a traumatic experience for both adults and children. Service workers who occasionally visit homes are at a higher risk.”

The risk also exists for meter readers, who are trained how to react if a dog should bite. “We teach our meter readers to first avoid, and how to handle if necessary, conflicts with dogs,” said Trevor Buchberger, general manager of Manitoba Hydro Utility Services.

The organizations are hoping that by reminding the public of the risks their dogs can pose, fewer door-to-door workers will be harmed this summer.

The issue is also on the minds of letter carriers at Canada Post, which dealt with 14 bites last year in Manitoba, forcing at least one worker to stay at home to recover. “We ask customers to be extra vigilant this summer and ensure dogs are kept away from the area where mail is delivered,” said Sheila Poot, Canada Post Delivery Manager. In some circumstances Canada Post will suspend mail delivery until the situation has been addressed, in order to protect employees from possible injury.