The number of U.S. Postal Service employees attacked by dogs nationwide fell to 5,714 in 2018 — more than 500 fewer than in 2017 and more than 1,000 fewer since 2016. But, for local Postal Service officials and mail carriers, one bite is one too many and new tools continue to be unleashed to help reduce dog attacks in the area.
In southern Ohio 141 carriers were attacked in 2018. In Preble County, there was one carrier bitten by a dog in Eaton.
“Our employees have been great at taking preventative measures against dog attacks, but they need help from our customers, too,” said USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. “We are confident we can keep moving the trends of attacks downward, and ramping up overall awareness for everyone is the best way to do that.”
According to DeCarlo, technology supports carrier safety in several ways: Mobile Delivery Devices are hand-held scanners, used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, now include a feature to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address. The Package Pickup application at usps.com asks customers to indicate if dogs are at their address when they schedule package pickups, which allows USPS to send alerts to those scanners.
At the mailbox, some dog owners may see a high-tech notice from the Postal Service. A 3-D printed postcard uses the latest in printing technology to command the attention of postal customers whose dogs may pose a risk.
Postal officials also note that a new interactive map shows where dog attacks on letter carriers occurred for 2018 will be used to educate communities and customers about trends in dog bites nationwide.
Mail carriers often have stories of dog bites, attacks and near misses to share. Here are situations from real carriers around the nation, with experiences common to many:
Regina is a regular letter carrier who was delivering to a resident where she never had a problem with a dog until this one day. The house had a mail slot at the front door. As she was bending down to put mail through, she noticed the door was ajar a tiny crack and that’s when a dog came charging at her.
With a quick response, she was able to pull the door shut and keep it closed. There was glass near the door and the dog charged the glass and broke it with its head. Luckily, the homeowner rushed to see what was going on. Regina immediately notified her supervisor and explained the situation. Within days, the homeowner put a mailbox in the front of his house.
On Angela’s route, a large dog was off his leash when he charged after her and luckily she stayed alert. She did not deliver to the home and alerted her supervisor.
In a separate incident, she walked towards a house where she realized there was a dog sitting on the front porch. Thankfully, a leash prohibited it from attacking. Again, she did not deliver to the home and alerted her supervisor.
Michael was in the back of his truck sorting mail when a dog got loose from its owner and jumped into the back of his truck, biting him on the wrist. The dog was on a leash being held by its owner. Unfortunately, the dog owner was texting on a cell phone as the dog loosened its grip and ran to bite Michael inside of his truck. He went to a hospital and received 10 stitches after this attack.
The Postal Service offers the following safety tips for dog owners:
When a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate glass windows to attack visitors.
Parents should remind children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
If a carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office or other facility until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office.
The Postal Service has a short video on dog bite prevention available on its YouTube site, USPS TV.