Dog bites: How you can make it safer for your letter carrier

The number of the nation’s postal employees attacked by dogs has dropped dramatically since 2016, partly due to new technology and the ability of customers to indicate whether dogs are present at a specific address during a pickup.

Dog attacks last year numbered 5,714, more than 500 fewer than in 2017 and more than 1,000 fewer since 2016.

“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.”

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Ohio letter carriers reported 304 dog bites last year, down from 345 during 2017. Dayton carriers were bitten 17 times during 2018. Letter carriers in Hamilton reported nine dog bite incidents and those in Fairborn logged four bites and in Middletown three during 2018, according to USPS statistics. Other area communities reported an incident or two during the year.

DeCarlo kicked off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs from Sunday through April 20.

Technology supports carrier safety in at least two ways, DeCarlo said: Mobile scanners used by carriers to confirm customer delivery include a feature to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address. And the Package Pickup application customers use ask them to indicate if dogs are at their address when they schedule package pickups, which allows USPS to send alerts to those carriers.

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The Postal Service offers the following safety tips:

• When a letter 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 letter carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.

• If a letter 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 another facility until the letter 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.

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