Prevent dog bites: ‘Paws’ before opening the door for utility workers

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Dogs are man’s best friend, but they bite about 4.5 million Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. One in five of those bites results in injuries that require medical attention.

Every day, DTE Energy employees and contractors enter yards and homes, as well as work in public spaces, to provide safe and reliable service to customers. This routine part of their job can be hazardous when dog owners allow their pets to roam freely.

Even the friendliest dog can bite, and all attacks are preventable through responsible pet ownership.

So what can you do to help keep utility workers who are working in your neighborhood or residence safe?

CJ Bentley, senior director of operations at the Michigan Humane Society and a dog behavior consultant, recommends putting your pet in a secure area when workers are present, even before you open the door.

“The only way to ensure your dog won’t bite is to place it in an area where the dog is unable to break free,” Bentley said. “The space should also make the dog feel safe and comfortable, even with a closed door.”

Bentley added other options are available:

  • Dog owners could also employ the use of baby gates as a protective barrier.
  • If the dog is crate-trained, placing the dog in the crate with a treat is effective and also a training moment if the dog associates the behavior with a reward.

Bentley advised against using a leash to restrain dogs in the presence of strangers.

“It’s too hard to have a conversation with someone while effectively controlling your pet,” Bentley said. “Many dogs have the ability to overpower their owners long enough to bite someone.”

So when a DTE Energy worker or contractor visits, remember to “paws” before opening the door to make sure your pet is secure. Our employees are more than willing to wait a few extra minutes. At DTE Energy, we value the health and safety of our employees above all else. If an employee perceives an unrestrained pet as a threat, he or she is empowered to leave the area and not return until the worksite is safe.

We must all work together to provide a safe environment for both your pets and the community. If you’re a pet owner, you can help by keeping your pets away and secure when utility workers visit.