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Information About Dog Attacks
Bruce Thabit has represented more dog bite
victims than any attorney in his 41 year legal career. He has been
representing USPS letter carriers and dog bite victims since 1963. Thabit's
law firm has a staff of lawyers who work exclusively in the dog bite
field. They are experts in the field, and are knowledgeable about
dog bite laws in all 50 states, plus Canada and Mexico. An
interesting note -- they even have a "doggie crime lab" for DNA
comparisons. They are networked nationwide with associated Trial Lawyers
who are distinguished members of the American Board of Trial
Dog Bite Law
laws vary from state to state. Therefore, the location of
the dog attack will determine your legal rights. In most instances,
dog bite law follows a "strict liability" theory. Under these
statutes, the dog owner is responsible for any damage caused by an
attack from their dog.
The two key elements to
prove in a strict liability dog bite claim are:
1. That the Defendant was the owner of the dog in question.
2. That a bite occurred.
Most Likely to Bite
The Centers for Disease Control studies dog bite incidents,
including the types of dogs most likely to bite. The breeds that the
CDC considers highest risk include:
What to do if bitten by a dog
Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Contact your physician for additional care and advice. If you are
in immediate medical distress, call an ambulance or go to the
emergency room immediately.
Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell
the animal control official everything you know about the dog,
including his owner's name and the address where he lives. If the
dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks
like, where you saw him, whether you've seen him before, and in
which direction he went after the incident.
delivering mail for seven years and this weekend I was
delivering to a residence that has a cat and two dogs. The cat
was tied up and of course I wasn't concerned about it, after all
it was a cat! When I turned to leave the box the cat crouched
hissed and pounced on me. It bit me three times and left serious
puncture wounds in my calf. There is a lot of pain there and
some infection. We've always gotten talks about dogs and safety
but where are the talks about vicious cats??? Wow.
Not long ago, after thirty two years carrying mail, I was bitten for the first
time. There was nothing remarkable about the incident, and though I told my
supervisor about it, I didn't file an accident report. A week later the next
door neighbor of the offending pooch informed me that the dog had died. I guess
geezer carrier blood is fatal to dogs.
I have two stories:
One day while delivering mail a lady came out on the porch with her dog to get
the mail from me. The dog started barking so I stopped in my tracks waiting for
the lady to put the dog back in the house. She said to me "don't worry, my dog
doesn't bite". About the time she finished saying this the dog turned and took a
bite out of her leg. I had to hand the mail to her and walk away quickly before
she saw me laughing.
Several years ago while delivering mail to a business on my route I had just
placed the mail on the counter and was turning to leave the store when I saw a
blur to the right. Just as I became aware of the blur I felt a pain and lo and
behold a dog had sunk his teeth into my right Gluteus Maximus. My supervisor
asked if I wanted him to come and see if I needed a doctor but I declined and
finished my route.
Carol Hackman Olathe, KS
Dear Sir: Several years ago a letter carrier in Chicago pulled a gun
out of his bag and shot a dog dead while he was walking up to the house to deliver mail.
Ironically, the dog's owners were coming out to give the carrier his Christmas present.
The dog was just a small family dog from what I remember.
There was this dog on my route that would always bite the mail and bark
wildly when I put the mail through the door slot. I was concerned that he might bite my
fingers and also the dog barking made me mad as hell. So one day I squirted some pepper
spray (breathe freshener) into his open mouth through the slot while he was barking. After
that, he still barked, but he wouldn't come near that slot.
I am a letter carrier in North Texas. I once had a supervisor - a
Vietnam Veteran - who would shoot problem dogs in the middle of the night. All you had to
do was tell him about a problem dog on your route and he would go out that night (or soon
afterwards) and shoot the dog from a distance. I believe he was a scout/sniper in the
I have been
a letter carrier for thirteen years and can remember my first dog bite like it was
yesterday. The second day on the job in Brilliant, Ohio a 92 year old lady came out
to greet me as the new carrier in town. When she opened her door her cocker spaniel
bolted out and bit me on the rear. She was really flustered got ahold of her dog the told
me "honey don't worry he's bit
lots of people". Guess I wasn't so special after all.
My husband was not attacked by a dog ... He was attacked by his supervisor... That's right
folks... I guess he never went to the zero tolerance meeting.
Several years ago while I was delivering mail I approached a
residence that had a dog tied to the front porch with a fairly long cord. As soon as the
dog spotted me he came charging at me. The dog pulled so hard that he broke the rope and I
thought that I was had, but the rope, which was made of a stretchy material, snapped him
on the back and he just slank off. He must have thought that someone had hit him with a
- Robert Woodruff, Illinois
While delivering mail one day I thought I saw something out of
the corner of my eye. I turned to look and there was a black Pit Bull running parallel
(low) to the ground to reduce his profile. He was in full attack mode and was swinging
around to attack me from the rear. There was no time for dog spray, not that it would of
helped, so I decided to kick the dog. (I have played Soccer all of my life and still have
a pretty strong kick). I reared back and kicked the dog as hard as I could. I caught him
right under the chin. The kick lifted him up and he flipped completely over and landed on
his back. There was another little mutt dog that was following the Pit Bull to get
in on the action. When he saw his buddy flip over he practically skidded to a halt and got
a puzzled look on his face. You could practically see the dog go "huhhhhh," like
Scooby Doo. About two months later I heard another carrier talking about a black Pit Bull
with a crooked jaw on the route.
I worked as a carrier tech for 12 years after my 2 years as a
sub. I covered 5 different routes each week. Of my six dog bites in those 10 years the
most memorable, was of a miniature French poodle. One delivery was to a side door of one
house across a driveway to the side door of
the next house. I got halfway to the second house when the poodle ran from the back yard,
bit my leg and ran back to the back yard. Not being bitten bad I continued my rounds
and kept the bite to myself. A few years later, I was again delivering that house. This
time a young boy
came to the door to get the mail. He opened the door and darned if the same dog didn't run
out, bite my leg and run back inside. This time it drew blood. The grandmother who was
watching the kids came to the door and asked "what happened"? I said "your
dog bit me". When I returned to the office I informed management, they sent me to the
hospital for shots. A few days later the Postmaster called me in to his office. He had
gotten a nasty letter from the women that lived there. She said "if the mailman was
bitten here before why didn't he report it". She also said "when my mother saw
the bite it was black and blue and bleeding. I think he was bitten somewhere else
and blamed it on my dog". I guess she was afraid of a lawsuit, but in the 70s the
USPS paid all costs of bites. I guess it was a case of dammed if I did and dammed if I
didn't report the first bite. My next 16 years only involved many amusing human antics.
Seems all the dogs on my route liked Herbie the mailman's dog biscuits.
I was on a walking route that had scores of junkyard dogs.
But when I was walking across a yard out of the corner of my eye I saw this Doberman
running towards me so in full speed I took off for my jeep and jumped on top. When I
turned around to see where it was I was completely embarrassed to see it was behind a
I am a carrier in Maryland. A customer has a yellow lab and it's the
meanest, skinniest lab you've ever seen. It has an electronic collar
on and every six months the batteries seem to die. The customer is
usually notified that the batteries need to be replaced. I delivered a
parcel on my first day on that route, not knowing the dog was on an
electronic collar. I pulled into the driveway and before I knew it the
dog jumped threw my car window and bit my arm. It was mostly slobber
and no broken skin. I notified the customer by placing a note in her
box. No reply and not even an apology about what happened. The dog's
batteries were replaced and just a few weeks ago, they died. Well I
told the PM and now the customer is not getting Mail Delivery at all.
It just doesn't pay to be the nice guy - not worth getting injured,
maybe for life.
- Elisabeth L.
I was doing was delivering a single Express Mail piece in a residential
neighborhood. I parked the jeep across the street, went up to the door
with the article and 3849 and pen, that was it. The entrance was a sort
of 4x4 covered opening and I rang the bell and heard a low dog bark. He
sounded like he was inside, cool. No answer, then I rang it again and
this time the bark was louder. Hmmm. No answer, so I started writing up
the 3849 and was just about to leave the entranceway when there was the
dog laying on the driveway. And he was big! What do I do now? So I stood
there a few minutes pondering the situation. He wasn't facing me so
maybe I could run for it but the jeep was far away. So for some reason,
I rang the bell again and the dog got up and started walking towards the
backyard. Well, seeing an opening, and afraid he would go back to the
driveway, I took off for the jeep and he saw me. I thought I was in a
movie or something, I was running like crazy. I had left the door open,
seeing that there was no mail in the vehicle, just got around the back
of the truck and slammed the door shut about 1 second before Fido
arrived. Whew!!! That was close. After that, the mace was my best
friend wherever I went.
- Steve Griffin
While delivering to a bricked mailbox I noticed that there was a black
widow spider that was living just under the front bottom of the box in a
crack going in to the bricks. I am not particularly fond of spiders and
black widows least of all. The next day the home owner was standing at
his box waiting for his mail as I pulled up. I noticed his dog was
laying about 15 feet away on the grass beside the drive, but it wasn't
barking or making any moves towards me so I didn't really think about
him to much. I told the homeowner about the spider and he leaned down
to look where I told him it was but said that he didn't see anything. I
could see the legs of the spider just sticking out from the edge of the
box so I put the LLV in park and shut it down and dismounted. The dog
had sat up but was still just sitting there, no barking or anything
else. As I leaned over and was talking to the man I was startled by a
hard knock to my head and a lot of pain. I thought the guy had just
punched me in the head! I looked up to see the dog loping away from us
and I said "hey did your dog just bite me?" He had a look of
horror on his face and he said "yeah he did!" I reached up and felt
blood on the top of my head - I shave my head so it was flowing freely.
He then said the classic dog owner saying "WOW HE'S NEVER DONE THAT
BEFORE! I never would have believed he would harm a flea much less bite
someone!" The ensuing trip to the clinic and the impoundment of
the dog was a drag for everyone. He was up to date with the shots
and all so I suffered no further problems from the bite. But man
did I catch hell from everyone back at the station! They said the
dog bit me because when I leaned over he saw his reflection on my shaved
head and thought it was another dog! No one had ever heard of
anyone getting bit on the head before or since. That was 3-4 years
ago and people still kid me about it! Moral of the story is never
ever take your eyes off that mutt! Oh and he sprayed the spider
- Jack, Branch 462, Huntsville, AL
Years ago, when I was a new PTF, I never particularly
cared to carry a satchel, so I carried my spray in my pants pocket. On
this particular day I was assigned a nice residential route with short
park and loops. I started down the street with flats on my arm and a
bundle in my hand. After a few houses I came up to this house with a
Chow behind a 3 1/2 foot fence. Never
thinking he could get over it, I started for the house. In a flash he
was over the fence and coming at me. About 5' from me he fell over on
his side and laid there. I watched him for several seconds wondering
what to do. I was prepared to go up to the house and tell the occupant
that their dog had a heart attack in the yard. As I started to the
steps, the dog got up, turned
around and jumped back over the fence. Always carried my satchel on
that relay from then on but I never saw that dog again.
I was walking to the back of the truck to get some
packages out for the loop when I saw this vicious dog out of the corner
of my eye. All I could do was put my arm up to block my face. The dog
had my whole elbow in his mouth when he clamped his jaw down on it. I
had a long sleeve turtle neck on plus my postal windbreaker. I don't
think I have ever been that scared in my life. The thing that ticks me
off the most is that I saw the dog and the owner before the incident and
I saw the owner get the dog. I waited to give the owner plenty of time
to tie the dog up before I got out of the truck. I screamed for the
owner and he came and got the dog before I was attacked again. The
owner told me the dog got away from him. The owner also said the dog
only has a problem with postal workers. Yeah right! Anyway, I had a
big ugly bruise for about a month and a couple of little scars where the
dog sunk a couple of teeth into my arm. I still to this day freak out
when I hear a noise rattling like a chain or any kind of dog running
loose. I really loved dogs before this happened, now I'm not so sure.
Several weeks ago, as I was nearing the end
of my route one afternoon, I stopped at a customer's house with 2 parcels to deliver.
I went to the customer's door with the parcels/mail and my scanner. I sat my
items down at the door and proceeded to ring the doorbell. As I was waiting for the lady
to come answer the door, her little terrier came up on the porch with me. About that
time, I looked around and he had hiked his leg and was PEEING on one of the parcels.
Well, as you might guess, I was none too happy with him, and neither was his owner.
She grabbed him and rubbed his nose in it! Anyway, I have been a rural carrier for 15
years (12 as a sub/3 regular) and I have never experienced this before. Hope I don't have
to anytime soon, either!
- Brad H.
When I was an RCA and drove a surplus jeep to deliver on the rural
routes, I had many a dog that could hear me coming and were geared up for my arrival.
Many people that had lost a dog in the past had taken to putting "invisible"
fences in place to keep them from chasing vehicles as they drove past. But for
some animals the sight of a mail jeep was too much temptation. that was the case with Bob,
a young rottweiler accompanied by an older chihuahua. Bob would come right up to the fence
line and run along the edge until the end of the yard and then he would stop, brace
himself for the shock from his collar and tear on through with a yelp as he followed me
down the road until he turned back for home. This was our usual routine and it continued
that way for several months. Then one day everything changed. I don't know if it was
the weather, the tone of my worn out muffler, or whether he was just trying to
impress his friend, but on this particular day, Bob decided to jump the fence and meet me
head on before I ever got to his mailbox. It was quite a shock to see the dog at full
gallop headed straight for the front of my jeep. I slammed on the brakes and came to a
stop in a cloud of dust with a dog yelping and a hissing sound coming from the front of my
vehicle. I felt sorry for the dog, but even sorrier for what I thought was my radiator.
When I got out and the dust cleared I was shocked to see my right front wheel on
the hindquarters of the dog and his teeth sunk into my tire from which air was rapidly
escaping causing the hissing sound. The owner came running out. I pushed the jeep off the
dog and he ran into the garage. We checked out Bob and he seemed none the worse for
wear except for an abrasion on his leg. My tire however was pancake flat. I had to
borrow the owners floor jack to get it up off the ground to put the
spare on. When I took it in to get it repaired they had to replace the
tire because the punctures were in the sidewall and it could not be
fixed. Well, needless to say Bob gave me a wide berth after that
escapade, at least for a month. Some Dogs just never learn!!!!!