The U.S. Postal Service is embarking on its annual campaign to raise awareness about, as well as prevent, mail carrier dog bites.
Mail carriers are bitten by dogs about 5,800 times each year, according to the USPS.
“When a dog attacks a letter carrier, the dog owner could be held liable for all medical expenses, repayment of lost work hours, replacement of uniform and other costs, which can run into thousands of dollars,” the agency said in a written statement. “The Postal Service places safety of its employees as a top priority and dedicates a week each year to Dog Bite Awareness.”
The USPS Dog Bite Awareness Week is taking place this year June 12 through June 18.
Officials offered dog-owners four tips:
• If 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. Some dogs 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 carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the person handing the mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
• Carriers may assume, when they see no physical fence around a property, the property is animal-free. This can be a dangerous mistake. Postal Service officials request that you keep your dog restrained or inside when the mail is delivered. Although the electronic fence may keep your dog from wandering, it does not protect your Postal Service carrier, who must enter your property to deliver the mail. Even homes with curbside mailboxes may have oversize packages or signature-needed items that require the carrier to approach a doorstep and cross the boundaries of the electronic fence. This poses a serious risk to carrier safety.
• Make sure your dog is properly restrained on a leash away from where your mail carrier is delivering the mail. Mail delivery service can be interrupted at an address or neighborhood the carrier deems unsafe because of an unrestrained dog. When service is interrupted at an address or neighborhood, all parties involved will have to pick mail up at their local Post Office. Service will be restored once assurance has been given that the animal will be confined during regular delivery hours.
• Dog owners who have access to postal features, such as Informed Delivery notifications (informeddelivery.usps.com) for letter mail and package tracking, are urged to use this as a way to gauge when the carrier is on their way and to ensure dogs are properly restrained. Expecting a postal package delivery on Sunday? Postal Service officials urge dog owners to restrain their animals on Sundays as well, as more residences are receiving deliveries throughout the weekend.
More information is available online at about.usps.com/what/corporate-social-responsibility/activities/dog-bite-awareness.htm.