Dog bites on the rise among letter carriers

Dog bites can and do result in mail service delays.

There's an old saying among postal workers that neither sleet, nor snow, nor hail nor virtually any other weather-related event can prevent the mail from being delivered. While postal workers do indeed work in the harsh elements, Mother Nature does, at times, create service delays, whether mailing to Australia, India or any other part of the world where the weather is wild.

But does the same hold true for other long-held postal worker obstacles? Indeed, particularly those that can result in injury.

Perhaps nothing is more synonymous with postal worker dilemmas than overprotective dogs. Canines are found in tens of millions of homes around the world, but when mail is delivered, pooches can sometimes bite, and postal employees are frequently those they target. This is true internationally, but especially in North America, according to newly released data from the U.S. Postal Service. For instance, last year, a total of 6,755 USPS employees were bitten by dogs. That's 200 more than how many there were in 2015.

80 incidents in Los Angeles last year
Nowhere were postal workers more targeted than in California. For instance, in Los Angeles, 80 employees were harmed after a dog bite, USPS reported, 18 more than the city that saw the second-highest number of attacks in Houston. Cleveland, San Diego and Louisville rounded out the top five, totaling more than 50 in each.

The USPS released the information in light of it being National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which in the U.S. runs from April 9 to 15. However, May is National Dog Bite Prevention Month.

"Even good dogs have bad days," said Linda DeCarlo, U.S. Postal Service safety director. "Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets and those who visit homes – like letter carriers – happy and healthy."

DeCarlo added how letter carriers and parcel delivery service people have only been able to use their eyes and ears to determine whether dogs are located at a particular place of residence. However, advancements in technology now enable them to indicate whether a dog is nearby through the scanners they use to read barcodes and confirm delivery.

"This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off," DeCarlo said.

Parcel services delayed in Regina
Mail carriers in Canada have run into similarly stressful situations. Late last year, for example, Canada Post decided to temporarily suspend mail delivery services in parts of Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan. As reported by CBC News, the delay stemmed from twin dog attacks that occurred within three days of each other, one on Dec. 13 and the other on Dec. 16. Residents on St. John Street were informed of the postponement and told they could retrieve their mailings from their closest Canada Post provider.

Meanwhile, several Canada Post employees who serve the Dawson Creek area, a city located in the northeastern portion of British Columbia, also reported being attacked by dogs. The incidents resulted in an investigation by Dawson Creek officials last November.

"We get a lot of unrestrained dogs that will charge the letter carriers," Paul Dunsmore, letter carrier supervisor for Canada Post's Dawson Creek division, told CBC News. "It's quite common to have dogs that are loose that come after us."

The investigation confirmed Canada Post's allegations and the offending canine was required to wear a muzzle whenever out in public, in addition to being leashed.

Pet owners who are expecting a package are asked to have their dogs leashed or cordoned off if there's any chance they may lunge at delivery workers who are on the premises.