More than 5,300 Postal Service employees were attacked by dogs while delivering the mail last year. And while no cities in in Oregon made the top 25 list, the state itself ranked 34th in the country with a total of 40 dog bites/incidents.
Nationwide, the top five worst states for dog bites/incidents are California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
Every year the Postal Service participates in National Dog Bite Awareness Week to bring awareness to the potential issues faced by postal employees delivering their routes. This year’s campaign runs Sunday, June 4 through Saturday, June 10 and we’re sharing information and tips on how to be a responsible dog owner.
Pet Owners Can Help Stop Trouble Before it Starts
“As a dog owner I know that any dog, even the best behaved, best trained dog can bite. We ask our letter carriers, as well as our valued customers, to be vigilant and remain on high alert with regards to the potential of unsafe dog interactions,” said Oregon district manager William Schwartz.
“I have two wonderful dogs, a Golden Retriever and a Labrador Retriever and I, like all dog owners, are responsible for controlling our dogs. The best way to keep our pets and everyone safe from dog bites is to recognize and promote responsible pet ownership. We in the Postal Service, are pro dogs and pro safety.”
Most people know when their mail carrier arrives every day. Many attacks could be avoided if dog owners would take a few extra moments of precaution. Securing your dog before the carrier approaches your property will minimize any dog-carrier interactions. When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep dogs:
- Inside the house or securely 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 the carrier as the dog may view them as a threat.
No one wants to believe their beloved four-legged friend can bite. But that can be the hard reality. Even the friendliest dogs can bite, depending on the circumstance. Because 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 mail carrier.
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.
Carriers also have tools to alert them to dogs on their routes. A dog alert feature on carriers’ handheld scanners can remind them of a possible dog hazard, and dog warning cards may be used during mail sorting to alert carriers to routes where a dog may interfere with delivery.
If a dog attacks, our employees are also trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as a mail satchel — and to use dog repellent, if necessary.
Consequences of an Attack
When a dog attacks a letter carrier, the dog owner could be held liable for all medical expenses, repayment of lost work hours, replacement of the uniform and other costs, which can become quite expensive for the dog owner.
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 aggressive dog is properly restrained.
This year’s theme is “Even Good Dogs have Bad Days.” Spread the news of the campaign by using the hashtag #dogbiteawareness.
Many attacks could be avoided if dog owners would take a few extra moments of precaution. Even one bite is too many when it comes to the safety of letter carriers, friends and family, and members of our communities.