Mail carriers learn to handle dogs on the job
In Evangeline Doman's 20 years as a mail carrier, she has never really had many bad interactions with dogs.
That all changed on March 17 when Doman, of Springettsbury Township, was bitten by a pit bull mix while delivering mail on her route. She said she required six stitches from the incident, adding that it was her first real wound from an encounter with a dog.
"It's not a myth, it does happen," Doman said.
On Wednesday morning, Doman and about 100 other mail carriers at the West York Post Office were given a brief presentation by York County Sheriff K-9 Handler Lt. David Godfrey and his K-9 officer, Capt. Dargo Bret Silver, on how to appropriately handle dogs while on the job.
Demonstration: "No one expects you to get that bite just because you're a postal carrier," Godfrey said. "It's not in your job description."
He told carriers to look out for signs, such as tail up or down on the dog, or a lot of yawning, indicating the dog is anxious.
"Any time they're anxious, it's not in a good way," he said.
In addition to providing them with signs of an anxious dog, Godfrey gave some pointers on how the mail carriers should protect themselves in the event of an attack.
"As ridiculous as this sounds, stay calm," he said. "The more fear they see in you, they're going to equate you to prey."
He also suggested using a package to distract the dog or use pepper spray on its eyes and snout to stop it.
"If a package gets bitten versus you, I think they'd much rather have that," he said.
Bites: Godfrey said he and Dargo came out last year to present similar information to the carriers.
"From what they expressed to me, it's a pretty big concern," Godfrey said.
"It can happen all year long," said West York manager of customer services Jose Canto.
Doman said when she was bitten, she yelled for help.
She said she did not have any packages or anything else on her to defend herself from the dog, so she threw her hands in front of her face. The dog bit her in the arm.
"I just wanted to protect my face right away," she said.
Doman said after yelling, witnesses nearby jumped up to help her quickly, so the dog did not bite her for long.
"It's hard to stay calm in a situation like that," Doman said.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.