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The Importance of Dog Bite Prevention Training for Field Employees

By: Mitzi Robinson, President/Founder/Speaker, Bulli Ray Occupational Dog Bite Safety 
Presenter 2021 VPPPA Conference Nashville

Severely injured meter reader attacked by two Mastiffs! Was never told about the puppies in the yard.

This event took place with a meter reader working for a mid-western company. We spoke to the company many times in the past about the need for dog bite prevention training, however they continually had the same excuses: their dog bites were minimal and they had no history of serious attacks.That all quickly changed when Bulli Ray received a call that they needed training, NOW! The senior manager of field operations was relieved to speak to us and asked us to come to train immediately.

At the time, it was important to understand the incident that transpired in its entirety in order for Bulli Ray to reinforce the necessary field training with all of the company’s field employees. Prior to training, when the senior manager of field operations was asked to share details of the incident, she seemed hesitant and commented that all field personnel should have been alerted–yet ultimately went on to share the story.

The incident involved one of her inexperienced female field employees, who at the time was only on the job approximately six months when she was attacked by two Mastiffs! The female dog was over 150 pounds, while the male weighed in at 210 pounds. She was lucky that she was not killed. Following the attack, she spent several days in the hospital and lost large sections of her leg due to infection. Today, she continues to suffer from major nerve damage to her hand and is considered disabled.

On the day of the incident, the employee arrived at the location to read a meter. She made sure she paid attention to her surroundings. She watched for dogs constantly after having a few close calls previously in other yards. She has four large dogs of her own, so she felt very comfortable around dogs. This was her regular route, so she knew that there were two Mastiffs, but the owner always kept the dogs in the house. She also checked her handheld computer for any updates. She was familiar where the meter was located and headed to an enclosed back porch. The back porch was used primarily as a storage area. As she was making her way through all the contents on the porch and suddenly heard commotion behind her coming from inside the house.

Feeling uncomfortable with the sounds, she started to retreat making her way back, and that is when the door to the house flew open, with the two very large Mastiffs charging out! She manages to get to the back door as the dogs take their first steps towards her. The dogs also had to make their way through the storage to get her. She knows that she can’t make it to the truck and was trained to not run from dogs. She didn’t want to get caught in this storage filled room. She makes it out and tries to use an old desk in the yard as shelter. The dogs are charging, and one goes around the desk and grabs her arm while the second dog goes through the middle of the desk, where there would normally be a chair, and grabs her leg. She tries to move, but the weight of the two dogs was too powerful and they take her to the ground. She is now being pulled in different directions by each dog! She hears the owner screaming at the dogs and the woman pulls on the dog that has her arm. The dog releases and the owner heads towards the house with the dog. The other Mastiff releases her leg and follows the owner back to the house.

The owner is still screaming, not at the dogs now but at the meter reader, “How idiotic are you?”, “We alerted the company that we had a litter of puppies, why would you come into the yard?”, “Why would you come on the porch when the puppies are just three feet from the meter?”. 

At this time, the severely injured meter reader can’t get up and feels as though she unable to move. She’s crying because of the pain and is hoping for someone to help her, but the owner does not return. After some time, she pulls herself together, and limps to her truck to call for help.

Following the incident, an investigation was conducted. It was found that the customer did in fact call customer service to inform the company that they had a litter of puppies at their residence. The customer described the two large dogs, explaining how dangerous it would be for anyone to come into their yard. However, the information never reached field operations.

Lessons Learned:

  • The employee did nothing wrong.
    • She was outmatched in an extremely dangerous situation.
  • The most dangerous time to enter a yard with dogs is when there are young puppies present. This information should have been documented to alert the employee on her handheld computer.
  • She had large sections of her leg removed due to infection.
    • Infection is one of the most dangerous side effects of a dog bite. 
    • All dogs carry bacteria in their mouths, but some dogs have much more than others depending on their environments. Females with puppies have more, as they constantly lick and clean their pups. Newborn puppies cannot defecate or urinate without being stimulated by their mothers licking. To keep them clean, the mother will consume feces and urine. This bacterium can then be passed on to their victim of a bite.
  • She also has major nerve damage to her hand and is considered disabled.
    • Another result of a large powerful dog.
  • Customer service and field operations must be on the same page.
    • The customer told company investigators that they called in the dangerous situation to the company. They felt no responsibility for the employee’s injuries.
  • Mailers should have been sent out telling their customers, spring is coming, who to notify if they have puppies.
  • When defending yourself use whatever is available, chairs, boxes, hoses, tools, or clothes. A dog will bite the first thing it comes to make sure it’s not you!  Keep the object moving so they want to grab and hold on. You want the dog to pull you to safety.
Bulli Ray Dog Stick

Final takeaway: Put something the dog can grab and hold on to, it could save your life one day!

Mitzi Robinson, Bulli Ray Enterprises, LLC, www.bulliray.com