LOS ANGELES, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 4.7 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs each year, 10 to 20 of whom will die from their wounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While children are the most common victims, Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) meter readers also fall prey to such injuries. "Last year, about one-third of our reportable injuries to meter readers were dog bites, some of which were quite serious," said Anne Smith, vice president of customer services and marketing at The Gas Company. "Safe entry to a customer's yard is necessary for us to effectively serve our customers and take an accurate meter read." With National Dog Bite Prevention Week underway May 21-27, The Gas Company says customer cooperation is needed when it comes to preventing unnecessary dog bites. "We're asking our customers who own dogs to please properly confine their dogs away from the gas meter," said Smith. "Most dog bite injuries can be prevented through public education and responsible dog ownership." Smith suggests customers check their gas bill for the following month's meter-read date so they can plan ahead to have their pet properly restrained. Gas Company meter readers are instructed not to enter the yard if they sense it is unsafe. Even if the owner is holding onto the dog, the meter reader is instructed to retreat. That's because dogs can become protective, more aggressive and difficult to handle, often breaking free from the owner's control. "Dogs are by nature protective of their environment and their young ones. We understand that and are taking steps not only to serve our customers but to provide for our employees' safety," said Smith. Gas Company meter readers receive extensive training on which dogs are most aggressive and how to safely deal with them. They also are equipped with special dog handling devices designed to protect them from an aggressive dog. Southern California Gas Co. is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, serving 18 million customers through 5 million meters. The company's service territory encompasses 23,000 square miles throughout central and Southern California. The Gas Company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego, with 12,000 employees, revenues of nearly $5.5 billion and more than 9 million customers in the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico and South America.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company