Tips for Dog Owners to Keep Mail Carriers Safe
Mail carriers of the United States Postal Service are proud to follow the motto: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of these appointed rounds.”
You’ll notice it doesn’t say anything in these noble words about what happens about a dog chasing a mail carrier or a dog attacking a mail carrier.
Unfortunately, it happens. Postal carriers are on their feet all day walking from yard to yard. They’re likely to encounter dogs, who are great at defending their territory, especially with unfamiliar men and women coming onto it. People may wonder why dogs hate mailmen, which isn’t necessarily true, but dogs do sense fear, which can further upset them, and many dogs are also genetically programmed to chase moving objects.
The Postal Service reports more than 5,400 instances of dog attacks on mail carriers around the country in 2021, including 68 in Arizona.
A barking dog trying to chase someone can be scary enough, but a dog bite can cause physical injuries as well as mental trauma. Too many encounters could easily lead to employees thinking about other jobs. In extreme cases, carriers can stop delivery service to a home or even a street until a specific problem is solved.
A mailman attacked by a dog could lead to pet owners facing possible legal action, higher homeowner insurance claims, and in some cases, having to make the tough decision to put down a pet if it is officially declared dangerous.
That’s why efforts are taking place in Arizona and other places around the country to lower the risk of these encounters. Training and education are key on both sides, and sometimes the solution is as easy as pet owners keeping a dog or dogs restrained or at least indoors when someone comes to the door.
Postal employees are also encouraged to do their part by trying methods to keep dogs away when they’re on their routes including spray or an air horn. They are also told to never assume that a dog won’t bite.
But for the most part, the burden falls on pet owners to reduce the risk – and potential legal liability that can come when they hear their dog bit the mailman.
Some suggestions to avoid future cases of dog attacks on mail carriers can include:
- Enrolling the dog in training classes that include an emphasis on staying calm in new situations.
- If it’s the same carrier, sometimes owners can allow a dog to meet them in safe conditions to recognize they’re not a threat.
- Discuss alternate delivery options away from the porch and yard, such as a postal box.
- Enroll in Informed Delivery Service, a free program that provides alerts when mail is coming, giving the owner enough time to restrain the dog.
- Keep dogs inside or in an enclosed outdoor area away from the front yard.
- Minimize occasions where dogs can see the mail carrier.
- Avoid accepting mail when the dog can see it or telling children to take it directly from the carrier.
The Postal Service is especially interested in keeping its people safe. It now has a public service campaign each June that encourages responsible pet ownership and emphasizes that any dog can bite, and one bite is too many.