What to know about USPS National Dog Bite Awareness Week

A letter carrier was bitten by a dog running loose April 18, 2014, on Glouster Street in Springfield. JEFF GUERINI / STAFF FILE

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A letter carrier was bitten by a dog running loose April 18, 2014, on Glouster Street in Springfield. JEFF GUERINI / STAFF FILE

“Be Alert: Prevent the Bite” is United States Postal Service theme for this week’s National Dog Bite Awareness Week.

The USPS is focused on preventing dog attacks on letter carriers, and earlier this month launched a new program in Dayton.

“During this difficult time, our letter carriers are delivering mail and they need to do it safely,” said Postal Service Safety Awareness Program Manager Chris Johnson. “We can continue to move the number of dog attacks downward by increasing awareness.”

From 2018 to 2019, U.S. Postal Service employees attacked by dogs went down by 200 for a total of 5,803 attacks nationwide; 161 of those attacks were in the Ohio Valley.

The dog bites included on in November 2019 on Hepburn Avenue in Dayton, where mail delivery was suspended for two weeks to the area until the dog owner would agree to secure the dog, the postal service said.

>> Dog bites letter carrier, USPS temporarily suspends delivery to Dayton neighborhood

One way the USPS is trying to prevent dog bites is through the PAWS Program that began in Dayton and other cities on June 6.

The program involves paw print stickers placed on residential mailboxes. A yellow sticker indicates that a dog lives at the next delivery address and an orange sticker indicates a dog lives at that address.

Residents who object to having a sticker on their mailbox can call their local postmaster to have it removed, however, the USPS said it may help dog owners avoid liability in the event of an attack.

Technology is another way that letter carriers can stay safe, Johnson said.

The first is through a feature on Mobile Delivery Devices, handheld scanners used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, that indicates the presence of a dog at a residence. The second is Informed Delivery, which alerts residents that mail or a package is arriving so they can secure their dogs.

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.
  • Do not 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 location 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 local post office.

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