JACKSON, Mich., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a 100 percent increase in dog bites during the first quarter of 2012 compared to all of 2011, Consumers Energy is asking customers to help its employees work safely by making sure dogs are leashed or confined away from natural gas and electric meters.
Through the first quarter of 2012 three employees suffered dog bites while on the job, versus a total of six incidents for the entire year of 2011. One incident required stitches to close the bite wound on an employee's hand.
"We suspect that the arrival of early spring weather and warm temperatures resulted in more customers leaving their dogs outside during the day, creating a potential hazard for service providers like utility workers and shipping carriers," said Michele Kirkland, vice president of energy operations for Consumers Energy. "Even the most gentle, well-mannered dog can become protective and aggressive around people it doesn't know. We sincerely appreciate the cooperation from our customers to help keep our employees safe."
Meter readers are particularly susceptible to encounters with dogs while reading meters, Kirkland noted. Dogs have sometimes been found leashed to gas or electric meters, or left loose inside an area that contains these meters, making it extremely difficult and potentially dangerous for the employees to perform their duties. This can result in estimated energy usage as well as a notation about the dog on the customer account, Kirkland added.
Consumers Energy customers can obtain the Meter Reading Schedule for their home by accessing the utility's website at www.consumersenergy.com. Once there, an eServices profile can be quickly established or accessed and a meter reading schedule obtained by clicking on "My History," then Energy Use, and then on the Meter Reading Schedule tab. This information will make customers aware of scheduled dates when a meter reader is expected to visit, and allow homeowners to take appropriate actions with their pets. Customers can also obtain the schedule by calling the utility's toll-free number at 1-800-477-5050.
If your dog must be loose near your meter, you can avoid estimated bills by reporting meter reads electronically through an eServices profile on the utility's website, or by reporting them through the toll-free number above.
Here are some tips provided by the United States Postal Service and the Humane Society of the United States on how to responsibly handle your dog and avoid having it bite.
- When a service provider comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash.
- Don't let a child or other family member get close to a service provider in the presence of your dog. A dog's primary instinct is to "protect" the family.
These additional tips for service providers could also help prevent dog bites:
- Don't run past a dog. The dog's natural instinct is to chase and catch prey.
- If a dog threatens you, try not to scream. Avoid eye contact; try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
- Don't approach a strange dog, especially one that's tied or confined.
- Always let a dog see and sniff you before you pet the animal.
Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy Corporation (NYSE: CMS), provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.8 million of Michigan's 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
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SOURCE Consumers Energy