According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), more than 3,500 postal workers experienced dog attacks while delivering mail last year. To raise awareness about this issue and prioritize employee safety, USPS has introduced “National Dog Bite Awareness Week” from June 4 to June 10.
In 2022, Houston, Texas recorded the highest number of reported dog attacks on postal workers with 57 incidents, followed by Los Angeles, California with 48, Dallas, Texas with 44, Cleveland, Ohio with 43, and San Diego, California with 39, as stated by the USPS.
When analyzing the data by state, California ranked highest with 675 reported dog attacks, followed by Texas with 404, New York with 421, Pennsylvania with 313, and Ohio with 311 incidents, according to the USPS.
To promote dog safety awareness among pet owners, USPS advises residents to keep their dogs indoors or behind a fence when a mail carrier arrives. Furthermore, the USPS suggests reminding children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier, as dogs may perceive carriers as threats to the child.
This year’s National Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign carries the slogan “Even good dogs have bad days.” USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director, Linda DeCarlo, emphasized that most dog bites occur from dogs that have not previously displayed aggressive behavior. DeCarlo urged pet owners to secure their dogs responsibly during mail deliveries to help reduce the number of incidents.
USPS carriers undergo training to remain vigilant while delivering mail. They are taught to be aware of areas with known dog presence and to respect a dog’s territory. In case of an attack, carriers are trained to stand their ground and protect themselves by placing a mail satchel or another barrier between them and the dog. Additionally, USPS carriers have access to dog repellent if necessary.
A letter carrier from Manassas, Virginia, Swain Lowe, shared an incident where a large aggressive dog almost bit him despite being behind a fence. Thanks to his training, Lowe turned and used his satchel as a shield, avoiding a potential serious bite.
USPS workers have handheld scanners equipped with a dog alert feature that warns them of potential dog hazards on their route. Dog warning cards are also used during mail sorting to inform carriers about routes where dogs have interfered with deliveries in the past.
The USPS highlighted that mail service may be temporarily halted if a carrier feels unsafe due to an aggressive dog. In such cases, mail must be collected from the local post office until the situation is resolved and the dog is properly restrained.
The list of the top 20 cities with the most reported dog attacks in 2022, provided by the USPS, actually consists of 36 cities as some reported the same number of attacks.