In previous articles we’ve talked about the threat of assault that exists to process servers and what should be a goal of every state to make this a felony. But what about when the attack doesn’t come from an individual but from an animal? A Florida process server was in the news this week after a couple set their dog on her while she was attempting to serve papers.
Be cautious of homes which have a “Beware of Dog” sign. Here are some tips if you happen to encounter a strange dog:
1. Make noise when you enter a property so your presence does not startle the dog. Walk confidently but slowly. Animals can sense fear, so stay calm.
2. Approach the animal VERY slowly. Do what you can to appear as small as possible and hopefully less intimidating, if you can walk up to it with your shoulder facing it, but remember to stay attentive. Do not get down on your hands and knees, it will make it harder for you to get away if the animal decides to attack. Only come within 10-15 feet of the animal.
3. Allow the animal to make the final approach once you are close. Call to it in a soothing voice and try to get the animal to come to you. Put out your hand, gently pat the ground, and you can also toss the animal food, throw the food to the side and not directly at the animal.
4. Avoid prolonged eye contact. Look to one side of the dog rather than staring it down. Dogs consider this to be a sign of domination. They interpret it as a kind of challenge and it can cause the dog to think you want to fight.
5. Hold out your hand so that the back of your hand is facing the animal. This is less threatening to most animals, and also lessens the chances of your fingers being bitten.
6. Observe the animal’s body language if it does not approach. For dogs you may VERY slowly start to take a few small steps toward the animal if it seems friendly but just shy.
7. Stay calm and slowly back away if a dog snarls or bares its teeth. Do not run!
8. Remain motionless as the animal sniffs at your hand.
9. Allow the animal to finish its examination of your hand and then slowly move your hand from the front of its face to just behind one of its ears, and scratch or pet gently. Remember that many animals have areas that they do not like having touched, so go slowly.
If there is any indication the dog may be aggressive (raised hair, bared teeth, growling):
- Stop and stand still. Do not make eye contact, yell or wave your arms. Remember, staring an aggressive dog in the eyes is a challenge. Do not turn and run away.
- If the dog doesn’t relax, softly command it to “sit” or “stay.” Do not yell. Instead use a soft, soothing tone of voice. Loud, angry-sounding words and screaming only spur on the dog.
- Hold out your briefcase, book, clipboard or anything else you might be carrying if the dog begins to attack. When the dog bites it, do not let go. Dogs will usually stop attacking if the attack has no effect.