Walking Oso and Blue was always a fun adventure, especially when their walk coincided with the local mail delivery. Former Traveling Leash clients, these boys got so excited when the mail truck pulled up alongside them on the street. They jumped onto the first step—tails wagging madly—to greet the mail carrier who gave them each a biscuit before continuing on her rounds.
Not all dogs have such a wonderful relationship with postal workers. Each year thousands of mail carriers are attacked by dogs as they try to do their jobs. According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), nearly 5,800 postal employees were attacked by dogs last year while the number of attacks in 2018 was 5,714.
In a recent article published in Safety + Health magazine Linda DeCarlo, manager of safety and OSHA compliance programs at USPS, said that dog attacks are an everyday safety concern for mail carriers.
“Our message (to mail carriers) is: If it’s got teeth, it can bite,” DeCarlo said. “You have to look at it from the dog’s perspective. He’s doing his job. He’s protecting that house and protecting his family, and all of a sudden a stranger is knocking on his door.”
While most of us are safely confined to our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, postal workers offer an essential service and have to continue delivering the mail. It’s up to dog owners to ensure their dogs are secured so that mail carriers (and other delivery service workers) can do their jobs without fear of injury.
Take Preventative Measures to Ensure the Safety of Your Mail Carrier
This is especially important now that the pandemic has disrupted normal household routines. Dogs who would normally be sleeping peacefully while waiting for the arrival of their dog walker or family members now have to adjust to a new norm. And as parents juggle homeschooling kids, working from home and preparing meals, it’s easy for the family dog to get lost in the shuffle. Doors and gates may not be latched securely or dogs might be left outside unsupervised for longer than usual.
The following preventative measures will help ensure the safety of your mail carrier:
- The mail is usually delivered around the same time every day. During this time keep your dog inside or in a fenced yard without access to the mailbox. Dog owners who have access to postal notification features, such as Informed Delivery for letter mail and package tracking, are urged to use these features to determine when the carrier is on their way and to ensure their dog has been properly restrained.
- If your property is secured with an electronic fence, please remember that while this fence might keep your dog safe, it doesn’t protect the mail carrier who has to step onto your property to deliver the mail.
- 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.
- Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet (this is true now anyway with new social distancing rules), as the dog may view the person handing the mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
- Keep front doors and fence gates closed while the mail carrier is on your property.
- Keep dogs away from the screen door, even if it is locked until the mail carrier is out of sight or the truck has pulled away.
The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a 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 carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If a dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbor also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office.