May has been designated as National Dog Bite Prevention Month. The Postal Service will be spreading the word about dog bite prevention all month.

Last year, about 3,100 mail carriers were bitten by dogs and about 4.7 million people suffered dog bites nationally. Children are the majority of the victims and are 900 times more likely to be bitten by a dog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) report that small children, the elderly, and letter carriers, in that order are the most frequent victims. Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.

The AVMA also reports that the number of dog attacks exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough, and mumps, combined. Dog bite victims account for up to five percent of emergency room visits.

The Postal Service isn't anti dog, but pro-responsibility. Postal officials ask that you properly restrain your dog to help prevent bites. Many bites occur because owners fail to leash their animals.

The Postal Service is offering these tips for avoiding dog bites:

* Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.

* If a dog threatens you, don't scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

* While letter carriers are discouraged from petting animals, people who choose to pet dogs should always let a dog see and sniff them before petting an animal.

* If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.