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Tips for preventing dog attacks on mail carriers

Story By Maya Reese
Local News Published 06/11/2021 11:58AM
Can you picture a member of your family attacking a mail carrier? Of course not, but it happened over 5,800 times last year across the nation. The Postal Service continues its tradition of calling attention to this public health issue.

2021 National Dog Bite Awareness Week takes place June 12-18. The theme this year is "Be Aware: Any Dog Can Bite." Spread the news of the campaign by using the hashtag #dogbiteawareness

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 run into thousands of dollars. The Postal Service makes the safety of its employees a top priority and dedicates a week each year to Dog Bite Awareness.

Here are a few simple tips to prevent dog bite injuries year round:
  • Door Delivery: If 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. Some dogs push through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners must keep the family pet secured. Never take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may see this as a threatening gesture.
  • Electronic Fencing: Carriers may assume, if they see no physical fence around a property, that the property is animal-free. This can be a dangerous mistake. Postal Service officials request that you keep your dog restrained or inside when the mail is delivered. Although the electronic fence may keep your dog from wandering, it does not protect your carrier, who must enter your property to deliver the mail. Even homes with curbside mailboxes may have oversized packages or signature-needed items that require the carrier to approach a doorstep and cross the boundaries of the electronic fence. This poses a serious risk to carrier safety.
  • Dog in the Yard: Make sure your dog is properly restrained on a leash and away from where your mail carrier delivers the mail. If the carrier deems a residence unsafe because of an unrestrained dog, mail delivery service can be interrupted. When service is interrupted at an address or in a neighborhood, all parties involved will have to pick up mail at their local Post Office. Service will be restored once assurance has been given that the animal will be confined during regular delivery hours.
  • Tracking: Dog owners who have access to postal notification features, such as Informed Delivery (informeddelivery.usps.com) for letter mail and package tracking, are urged to use these features to determine when the carrier is on their way and to ensure their dog has been properly restrained. Expecting a postal package delivery on Sunday? Postal officials urge dog owners to restrain their animals on Sundays as well, as more residences now receive deliveries throughout the weekend.
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