LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - More than 6,000 letter carriers were attacked by dogs last year according to data just released by the U.S. Postal Service.
On Tuesday, postal workers in mid-Michigan got some hands-on training on how to prevent dog attacks.
You've seen it in movie scenes for years, the post office letter carrier getting chased by a dog, but it's a sad reality.
In the past decade alone State Farm has paid over one billion dollars for dog-related injury claims, and it's making carrier's jobs a lot harder.
"It gets your heart rate going, so it's scary," said Lorry Young. Lorry Young was out delivering mail when she was bitten by a dog. One of the lessons she took away was: "Just because they are friendly doesn't mean they are going to be friendly to us," said Young.
Reasons like that are why the U.S. Postal Service brought in dog bite prevention expert Hector Hernandez, who uses a different kind of approach to show carriers what works and what doesn't.
"One of the things I do is actually prove my methods by having dogs attack me for real," said Hector Hernandez.
Hernandez trains letter carriers all over the country on how and when to use force on dogs, but his biggest tip of all is to ignore the pet's existence.
"Don't pet the dog, don't try and make friends with the dog, it's not gonna work, they will still bite you," said Hernandez.
At the end of the day, Young says, she has to look out for herself.
"It's important to deliver the mail, but if my safety is breached then I am gonna have to stop that delivery, that day," said Young.
Hernandez says homeowners also need to do their part to prevent attacks. He recommends keeping dogs inside and blocking windows, so dogs can't see carriers outside of the home.
Also, do not take mail directly from a letter carrier in the presence of your dog, because the dog may perceive the mail person as a threat.