MIAMI — More than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the United States in calendar year 2021. In South Florida’s warm climate, unrestrained dogs roaming some neighborhoods is a year-round safety issue. Miami ranked # 22 (tied with Dayton, OH) in the top 25 cities where dog attacks are a concern.
During National Dog Bite Awareness Week, Sunday, June 5, through Saturday, June 11, the U.S. Postal Service is providing information on the do’s and don’ts of responsible dog ownership. This year’s theme is “The USPS Delivers for America – Deliver for Us by Restraining Your Dog.” Spread the news of the campaign by using the hashtag #dogbiteawareness.
“From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to our postal employees who are delivering for America,” said Florida 3 District Manager Jean Lovejoy.
Dog attack rankings, by city, in calendar year 2021
Cleveland, OH (1); Houston, TX (2); Kansas City, MO (3); Los Angeles, CA (4); Louisville, KY (5); Dallas, TX (6); St Louis, MO (7); Chicago, IL (8); Detroit, MI (9); Philadelphia, PA (10); Columbus, OH (tied 11); San Diego, CA (tied 11); San Antonio, TX (12); Denver, CO (13); Phoenix, AZ (14); Toledo, OH (15); Fort Worth, TX (16); Cincinnati, OH (17); Seattle, WA (18); Minneapolis, MN (19); Pittsburgh, PA (20); Akron, OH (tied 21); Albuquerque, NM (tied 21); Dayton, OH (tied 22); Miami, FL (tied 22); Baltimore, MD (tied 23); Memphis, TN (tied 23); Youngstown, OH (24); Baton Rouge, LA (tied 25); Flint, MI (tied 25); Flushing, NY (tied 25); and Indianapolis, IN (tied 25).
Being a responsible pet owner
Dog owners with friendly dogs often expect a friendly reaction from other dogs. However, even friendly dogs will bite, depending on the circumstance. Dogs are primarily territorial in nature and protective of their owners and their owners’ property. Defending this territory sometimes means attacking - and possibly biting - the letter carrier. 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.
Most people know the approximate time their letter carrier arrives every day. Securing your dog before the carrier approaches your property will minimize any dog-carrier interactions. When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep dogs inside the house or behind a fence, away from the door or in another room, or on a leash. Pet owners also should remind their children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier as the dog may think the carrier is a threat.
Being attentive while delivering
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 are trained to:
• Not startle a dog,
• Keep their eyes on the dog,
• Never assume a dog won’t bite,
• Make some noise or rattle a fence to alert the dog, if entering a yard,
• Never attempt to pet or feed a dog,
• Place their foot against an outward swinging door.
“Although we ask our customers’ cooperation in controlling their dogs, unfortunately, dog bites still happen,” said Lovejoy. “This may result in injuries to our carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners. Please heed best practices to help stop dog bites and protect your letter carrier.”
Carriers do have tools to remind them about dogs on their routes. There is a dog alert feature tool on their handheld scanners to remind them of a possible dog hazard. They also use dog warning cards as reminders when they sort their mail for their routes.
Lastly, when a carrier feels unsafe, mail serviced could be halted - not only for the dog owner, but for a block or an entire neighborhood. When mail service is temporarily suspended, customers must pick up their mail at their local Post Office. Delivery will be restored when the dog is properly restrained.