More than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the United States in the 2021 calendar year, according to the US Postal Service.
The city of Los Angeles reported 44 such incidents, which ranks fourth nationally, following Cleveland (58), Houston (54) and Kansas City, MO (48). Louisville (42) rounds out the top five. The full report listed 32 cities
“Every year, thousands of postal employees are attacked by dogs as they deliver America’s mail. And while it’s a dog’s natural instinct to protect their family and home, we ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered,” said USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault.
Theriault, representing the Postal Service’s annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign, which runs through Saturday, June 11, pointed out that aggressive dog behavior — from nips and bites to more vicious attacks — poses a serious threat to postal employees and the public.
“When a carrier comes to the residence, keep the dog inside the house and away from the door — or behind a fence on a leash — to avoid an attack,” Theriault said.
Being a Responsible Pet Owner
Dog owners with friendly dogs often expect a friendly reaction from other dogs. However, even friendly dogs will bite, depending on the circumstance. Dogs are primarily territorial in nature and protective of their owners and their owners’ property. Defending its territory sometimes means attacking — and possibly biting — the letter carrier.
Last year, many attacks reported by letter carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly stated, “My dog won’t bite.” Dog bites are entirely preventable. One bite is one too many.
Dog owners are responsible for controlling their dogs. The best way to keep everyone safe from dog bites is to recognize and promote responsible pet ownership.
Most people know the approximate time their letter carrier arrives every day. Securing your dog before the carrier approaches your property will minimize any dog-carrier interactions.
Here are some other tips for dog owners.
When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep dogs:
— Inside the house or behind a fence;
— Away from the door or in another room; or
— On a leash.
Pet owners also should remind their children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier, as the dog may view the carrier as a threat.
Being Attentive While Delivering
Letter carriers are trained to observe an area where they know dogs may be present. They are taught to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions and to respect a dog’s territory.
Letter carriers are trained to:
— Not startle a dog;
— Keep their eyes on the dog.
— Never assume a dog won’t bite;
— Make some noise or rattle a fence to alert the dog if entering a yard;
— Never attempt to pet or feed a dog, or;
— Place their foot against an outward swinging door.
If a dog attacks, carriers are also trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.
Carriers do have tools to remind them about dogs on their routes. There is a dog alert feature tool on their handheld scanners to remind them of a possible dog hazard, and they use dog warning cards as reminders when they sort their mail for their routes that a dog that may interfere with delivery.
Lastly, when a carrier feels unsafe, mail service could be halted — not only for the dog owner but for the entire neighborhood. When mail service is stopped, mail must be picked up at the Post Office. Service will not be restored until the dog is properly restrained.