DETROIT (WWJ) – They walk the streets every day delivering America’s mail, and Detroit-area letter carriers want to deliver a special message to the community about working together to avoid the cost and pain of dog bites.

While some attribute attacks on letter carriers to dogs’ inbred aversion to uniforms, experts say the psychology actually runs much deeper. Every day that a letter carrier comes into a dog’s territory, the dog barks and the letter carrier leaves. Day after day the dog sees this action repeated. After a week or two, the dog appears to feel invincible against intruders. Once the dog gets loose, there’s a good chance it will attack.

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“That’s why we want to deliver this important message,” Detroit Postmaster Derron Bray said in a statement. “Several of our letter carriers know first-hand about both the prevention and the pain of animal attacks, and we want to do whatever we can to help educate the community — especially parents and pet owners.”

Nationwide, nearly 5,700 dog attacks were reported last year and officials say more than 2 million children are typically treated for dog bite injuries in a single year. Just last month, 4-year-old Xavier Strickland was fatally mauled by several pit bulls while walking with his mother to an elementary school on Detroit’s west side. He was ripped from his mother’s hand and dragged under a fence by the dogs as she watched in horror.

“There’s a myth we often hear at the Postal Service: Don’t worry, my dog won’t bite,” said Bray. “Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem. Any dog can bite and all attacks are preventable through responsible pet ownership.”

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The Postal Service is sharing the following reminders with dog owners in metro Detroit:

• 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 get at strangers.

• Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should also remind their children 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 child as a threatening gesture.

• If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well.

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