Dog bite awareness
Folklore suggests dogs and letter carriers have a love-hate relationship. Most people would probably agree that having a dog charge at them and bite is a frightening experience. The Postal Service reports that that happened more than 5,800 times to our employees in 2020 while trying to deliver the mail. Dog bites are entirely preventable. One bite is one too many.
The Postal Service wants to educate the public on the dos and don’ts of responsible dog ownership so letter carriers can safely approach their residence or business. That is why it holds an annual Dog Bite Awareness Week, which runs June 12-18 this year. The theme for 2021 is “Be Aware: Any Dog Can Bite.” Spread the news of the campaign by using the hashtag #dogbiteawareness
This annual campaign informs letter carriers and dog owners on ways to stop dog attacks — and it works.
“Raising awareness about dog bite prevention and how to protect our letter carriers as we deliver the mail is paramount,” said USPS Acting Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Jamie Seavello. “Dogs are instinctive animals that may act to protect their turf and that why’s it’s important to inform the public about this campaign.”
All dogs can bite and in 2020 there were more chances of interaction between dogs and letter carriers as we all relied on home delivery during the pandemic.
Prevent the bite
Dog owners are responsible for controlling their dogs. The best way to keep everyone safe from dog bites is to recognize and promote responsible pet ownership.
A pet owner should know:
→ Teach your dog appropriate behavior and commands.
→ Don’t allow your dog to roam freely.
→ Socialize and help your dog become accustomed to a variety of situations and people.
Most people know the approximate time their letter carrier arrives every day and having their dog secured as the carrier approaches their property for delivery will minimize any dog carrier interactions.
Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier as the dog may view the carrier as a threat.
A great tool for customers to use to know if their carrier may be knocking on your door to deliver a package is a service called Informed Delivery. It’s a free service where customers can digitally preview their mail and packages that are scheduled to be delivered. Sign up at informeddelivery.usps.com.
Carrier and the canine
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.
Letter carriers know:
→ Don’t startle a dog.
→ Keep your eyes on the dog.
→ Never assume a dog won’t bite.
→ Call the dog’s name, if it’s known, and talk to it in a friendly manner.
→ Never attempt to pet or feed a dog.
If a dog attacks, the carrier is trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.
Also, carriers have dog warning cards that are used when they sort their mail for their routes to remind them there is a dog that may interfere with delivery. Carriers also have a dog alert feature tool on their handheld scanners that can be used to remind them of a possible dog hazard.
Even though postal officials ask customers to control their dogs, unfortunately dog bites still happen, which may cause injuries to our carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners. Please heed the above best practices to help stop dog bites and protect your letter carrier.