More than 5,300 U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employees were attacked by dogs while delivering mail last year, according to USPS data. Texas ranked as the second worst state in the country for dog bite attacks, with 368 reported attacks in 2021 and 404 reported attacks in 2022.
Dallas ranked third in the country for overall dog attacks on letter carriers, with 44 reported attacks in 2022. Houston claimed the unfortunate title of the worst city in the country, with 57 attacks during the same period. Los Angeles secured the second spot, reporting 48 attacks. Several cities in Texas made it onto the list of the top 20 worst cities, with San Antonio ranking ninth, Fort Worth 19th, and El Paso placing 20th.
Aggressive dog behavior poses a safety concern for USPS employees. In order to ensure the well-being of its workers, the organization is sharing vital information on how dog owners can help contribute to safe mail delivery as part of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week public service campaign.
“When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a ‘good dog’ that had not previously behaved in a menacing way,” said USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo in a press release. “In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail. Please help us reduce that number by being a responsible pet owner who secures their dog as we deliver the mail.”
To ensure the safety of letter carriers, it is important to follow a few guidelines. Keep your dogs either inside the house or behind a fence, preventing their access to the carrier. Alternatively, you can confine them to another room away from the door. If you prefer to have your dogs outside, make sure they are properly restrained on a leash. These simple measures help create a safer environment for both the letter carrier and your beloved pets.
"When letter carriers deliver mail in our communities, dogs that are not secured or leashed can become a nemesis and unpredictable and attack," said Leeann Theriault, USPS employee safety and health awareness manager. "Help us deliver your mail safely by keeping your dog secure and out of the way before your carrier arrives."
Letter carriers undergo training to effectively handle situations where dogs may be present. They are taught to be cautious and respect a dog's territory. Some key training guidelines for letter carriers include: avoiding startling a dog, never assuming a dog won't bite and refraining from petting or feeding dogs.
In the event of an attack, letter carriers are trained to stand their ground, and protect their body by utilizing their mail satchels as a shield, and, if necessary, using dog repellent for self-defense. These measures ensure the safety of both the letter carrier and the dogs encountered during their mail delivery duties.
Carriers are equipped with tools that help them stay informed about dogs on their routes. One such tool is the dog alert feature on carriers' handheld scanners, which serves as a reminder of potential dog hazards. Additionally, dog warning cards are utilized during mail sorting to notify carriers of routes where dogs might interfere with the delivery process.
As a last resort, when a carrier feels unsafe, mail service can 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 is then not restored until the aggressive dog is properly restrained.
To ensure the well-being of USPS employees, responsible pet owners should take immediate action by familiarizing themselves with the guidelines provided by USPS.