Already this year, Minnesota mail carriers have been bitten by dogs 45 times. That's 45 times too often, of course, and is outpacing last year's 73 mail-carrier dog bites in the state.
To emphasize the seriousness of these attacks and the need for dog owners to ensure their animals are secured while carriers make their rounds, the U.S. Postal Service sponsored Dog Bite Awareness Week June 12-18. For all the Postal Service's challenges right now, dog attacks is a lingering one not to be overlooked.
"There are many dog lovers in the communities that we serve," Nicole Hill, communications specialist in Minnesota for the USPS, said in a statement last week. "While many dogs are great companions, it is important to remember that any dog can bite."
Across the country, more than 5,800 postal employees were attacked by dogs last year. "To put it in perspective," the statement said, "every 15 seconds throughout the United States a postal employee is bitten. … Dog bites carry more than a tooth mark or a scare. The trauma and scarring can leave a lasting impact on our carriers. … (And) dog attacks and bites are 100 percent preventable when dog owners remain vigilant and properly restrain their dogs."
The preventable incidents happen despite carriers being trained to practice safety habits like rattling fences before entering yards. The problem is more prevalent during these summer months when more dogs are outside.
As part of its awareness effort, the Postal Service offered tips to dog owners: "Keep dogs in another room until a delivery exchange is done, [if] a dog is outside, leash [it] away from the mailbox, [and be] mindful of when your carrier delivers to your home and keep the dog inside until the mail carrier leaves the area."
The USPS also offered this warning: "When a carrier feels unsafe, mail service could be interrupted, not only for the dog owner but for the entire neighborhood. When mail service is interrupted, mail will have to be picked up at the Post Office and service will not be restored until the dog is properly restrained."
Put simply, "When the mail carrier comes by, put the dog inside," Hill said. "One bite is too many."