Around 5:30 pm on May 19, 2019, police are called to the 3600 block of Endsley Place, an unincorporated section of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The problem? An American Bulldog has attacked a food delivery driver, biting off part of his ear. Local news agency WUSA9 reports the dog also bites the driver’s neck and face multiple times. When an animal control officer tries to capture the animal, it breaks free and lunges at the officer. A Prince George County police officer who senses another potential attack shoots and kills the dog, preventing further injury to the people in the area.
We are seeing an increase in the number of dog bites in our neighborhoods, like the attack in Upper Marlboro – making delivery drivers more vulnerable.
We know the meteoric rise of online shopping has drastically increased home deliveries in the United States. The U.S. Postal Service reports that postal workers were the victims of 6,755 dog attacks in 2016 alone. USPS is spending more than $25 million dollars each year on medical expenses and workers’ compensation costs related to dog bite incidents.
Unfortunately, we also know dog bite attacks in general are becoming all-too-common. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs annually and 915 victims wind up in the emergency room per day – or a total of 334,000 people needing treatment for dog attack injuries. Dog bites can lead to infection, nerve damage, permanent scars and loss of functionality to the extremities, not to mention the emotional trauma related to an animal attack.
Have We Created a New Breed of Dog Bite Victim?
Traditional delivery personnel are not the only ones that are vulnerable to animal attacks and dog bites. An explosion of food delivery services across the United States has created fleets of “citizen drivers.” The traditional model of food delivery, such as pizza and Chinese food, uses delivery drivers who are employed by a restaurant. New food delivery services such as Door Dash, Postmates, Grubhub and Uber Eats employ drivers who deliver food from multiple restaurants such as fine dining, fast food or ethnic restaurants that don’t employ their own food delivery fleet.
With traditional package delivery, like the U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx, drivers typically have a personal interaction with the recipient less frequently than drivers who deliver food and other perishable goods like flowers. Packages are left in mailboxes or on the front porch, unless a signature is required for delivery.
The new breed of delivery driver brings food and other packages directly to the consumer, putting them more at risk of interacting with an owner’s pet. What’s more, if you are driving for a home improvement, appliance or furniture store, or a service like cable, internet or home security -you’re delivering goods and likely placing them inside a person’s home.
As protective as dogs can be of their owners and other family members like the kids, they can be equally dangerous for delivery drivers, whether traditional or not.
What Drives a Dog’s Aggressive Behavior?
If you are driving for a delivery service, stay alert to the actions of any dog you encounter, because it will give you a clue to what it is driving a dog’s potentially aggressive behavior:
- Prey Drive– Dogs with a “prey” drive are generally following their hunter/killer instincts. The dog with a strong prey drive usually attacks silently without barking. They allow an “intruder” to enter the house and then they attack from behind.
- Play Drive – Dogs in play drive present a hazard to humans, however unintentional. Dogs like to play and chase things like balls, other dogs, cats and people. If a dog in play drive gets too excited, they can cause harm.
- Defense Drive – A strong instinct for survival is natural– it’s fight or flight. An aggressive dog will generally go with the former, but even less aggressive dogs will choose the fight option if they feel trapped and flight is not an option.
- Food Drive – A dog motivated by the food drive is constantly on the hunt for food. This type of behavior doesn’t usually present a hazard unless the dog is being fed by hand or if a human is touching their food bowl.
What to Do in Case of a Dog Bite
If a dog bites or attacks you while making a delivery, the most important thing to do is seek medical attention. Make sure your wounds are thoroughly cleaned by a medical professional. You may need to get a rabies shot or a tetanus shot if your vaccinations are not current.
You also must act quickly to control the damage.
- Control any bleeding.Apply gentle pressure to the wound with a clean towel or cloth until it stops bleeding. You may need to elevate the injured area in the event that there is a lot of blood.
- Clean the site of the bite. Wash the wound with warm soap and water and rinse thoroughly to cleanse any bacteria.
- Cover the wound.Pat the area dry gently, apply an antibacterial salve, and put a clean bandage on the injury.
Have a Legal Question About Dog Bites in Baltimore? We Have Answers.
If you are a delivery person of any kind and are a victim of an animal attack or a dog bite, the attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling Law are experts at answering all your questions and guiding you through challenging process of Maryland dog bite law. We can help you find out if you can hold a third party responsible for your injuries and file suit for damages. Contact us or call us at 410-356-4455 to set up an appointment with one of our dog bite attorneys today.