Electric cooperative employees must go on private property to do their job. In doing so, these workers often encounter dogs, and these family pets are not always friendly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 36 percent of U.S. households own at least one dog and it estimates that dogs bite more than 4.5 million people annually in the U.S.
Therefore, the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives sponsored a regional training over four days for electric cooperative workers to protect themselves from dog encounters.
Hector Hernandez, speaker, dog trainer and author, brought along his assistant canine Malo, a Dutch shepherd, to help teach the co-op personnel.
With more than 30 years of experience training all types of dogs, including police dogs, Hernandez has developed and tested dog training and dog bite prevention methods. He regularly speaks at utility companies, the U.S. Postal Service and police departments to help protect workers in a dog encounter.
More than 200 participants from 10 cooperatives attended the trainings held at SouthEastern Electric Cooperative, Carrier Mills; Adams Electric Cooperative, Camp Point; and Shelby Electric Cooperative, Shelbyville. Key points co-op workers learned are:
- During a dog encounter, face the dog and walk backwards while giving loud commands.
- During a dog attack, place something in front of you and shake it as the dog is charging.
- If bitten during a dog attack, strike the dog under the chin, behind the neck or on the spine.
- If the dog is friendly, its tail will be twisting with its mouth opening and closing.
- A dangerous dog will have direct eye contact with tunnel vision and a stiff body.
- Always be alert and ready, remain calm, and breathe.