DETROIT (WWJ) – The U.S. Postal Service says there’s been an increase in dog attacks on postal workers, with 6,795 carriers bitten in 2016 — up 206 from 2015, and the most in three decades.
In Detroit, there were 48 reported attacks in 2016, putting it at number six in the annual city rankings released by the USPS ahead of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which begins Sunday.
At the top of the list is Los Angeles, where mail carriers were attacked 80 times, followed by Houston and Cleveland with 62 and 60 dog bites respectively.
Reports say a spike in online shopping may be to blame for the respective spike in bites. While consumers’ increasing demand for packages and groceries delivered to their doorsteps is good for postal business, it’s bringing carriers up close and personal with pets.
U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo said, in releasing the statistics, they’re hoping to draw attention to increased safety measures that alert letter carriers to dogs on their delivery routes, and let dog owners know how they can help.
“Even good dogs have bad days,” DeCarlo said, in a news release. “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.”
The Package Pickup application on usps.com asks customers to indicate if there are dogs at their addresses when they schedule package pickups. This information is provided to letter carriers on their delivery scanners, which also can send real-time updates if an unleashed dog is reported in a delivery area.
“The scanners that Postal Service letter carriers use to confirm a customer’s delivery include a feature for carriers to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address,” said DeCarlo. “This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off.”
She offered the following tips and encouraged sharing them using the hashtag #preventdogbites.
- If 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. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
- Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
- The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. 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 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.
Learn more and see the complete city rankings at this link.