Jun 12, 2020

U.S. Postal Workers and Dog Attacks


Dog Attacks Still Major Risk for Both Postal Employees and Children?

Los Angeles is the number two most dangerous city for dog attacks against letter carriers in the U.S. Dogs, over time, will view uniformed mail carriers as a threat because of the fact that the mail carrier leaves, six days a week, every time after the dog barks. Over time the animal feels validated the mailman or woman is a threat because the dog thinks it "protected" its home by scaring off the intruder. So over time, dogs can view the mail carriers' uniform itself as a potential threat.

So our uniformed letter carriers have good reason to be cautious when they hear or see a barking dog. And since June 14-20, 2020 is all about dog bite prevention week; I thought I would share my thoughts with you as a Los Angeles lawyer who helps postal workers attacked by domesticated animals. Man's best friend is a crucial companion in millions of homes across the country. However, dogs also represent one of the highest injury risks for:

  1. Young children. (This figure includes children living within the household itself).
  2. Elderly visitors.
  3. U.S. postal workers are walking on their mail routes.

Attacks against mail delivery people in Los Angeles have seen their fair share of media coverage in the past. Most of us have seen the mostly white postal truck with their right-hand steering wheels parked along residential streets. Postal workers pull over, grab their mailbag, and start walking the shoulder of the roads and walking paths at a brisk pace. And this has been their job for ages, since the inception of the Pony Express.

But occasionally, Rover, or Fido and a pack of dogs get loose from a neighbors yard. Female dogs in heat can especially make male dogs jump fences, and dig holes to get a chance at mating. And when something like that happens, uniformed postal workers are rarely not perceived as a threat to dogs. After all, canines, being the ancestors of wolves, are territorial by nature.

Most postal employees know if they run, they will just get nipped or bitten in the buttocks or ankle, thrown to the asphalt and ripped apart, or worse. So these government employees are trained to stand their ground and defend against the attack if possible.

How USPS Campaigns Like “Be Alert: Prevent the BITE” Can Are Helping Reduce Dog Attacks Against Postal Delivery People.

Most mail delivery personnel will carry mace or some type of dog repellent. But no amount of pepper spray can stop every kind of determined canine from attacking. Furthermore, certain breeds are far more likely to attack, leading to a particular caution. Such strains of dogs are much more likely to attack. And these breeds are the ones that tend to maim, or in some cases even kill compared to other domesticated dog types. With all of this in mind, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is ringing in National Dog Bite Awareness Week.

What Do the 2020 U.S. Postal Service Dog Attack National Rankings Say?

There is good news for U.S. postal workers in 2020. According to the USPS, attacks on postal workers by dogs have dropped annually since 2017. 2019, attacks against mail people substantially decreased by almost 200 attacks from 2018. However, the 5,803 dog attacks in 2019 represent a whopping 400 fewer attacks since 2017.

That is a significant drop contributing to the safety of postal workers and civilians. One way the USPS is helping to avoid dog attacks is with education and public outreach programs.

Also, it has made its list of the most dangerous cities with the most reported canine assaults against letter carriers. Tips and educational neighborhood outreach like this have clearly assisted in preventing injuries to these essential government employees who we count on to deliver our mail, rain, sleet, or snow.

"Even during these difficult times, it's important for our customers to understand that letter carriers are still coming to homes daily and need to deliver mail safely," said USPS Safety Awareness Program Manager Chris Johnson. "We are confident we can keep moving the trends of attacks downward, and ramping up overall awareness for everyone is the best way to do that." (Source).

Tips and Technology for Letter Carriers to Stay Safe.

According to Johnson, technology supports carrier safety in two ways: Mobile Delivery Devices, handheld scanners used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, include a feature to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address. And the Informed Delivery service alerts customers to mail and packages coming to their homes, allowing them to plan for the carrier's arrival by securing dogs safely.

Some Steps Letters Carriers Learn to Mitigate a Dog Assault.

Both dog owners and workers can achieve a safer neighborhood by: 

  • Crate or keep your dog apart from any rooms allowing your dog access to the front entry when receiving packages or letters while opening your door. Workers may not even drop your mail is they see a snarling dog behind a sliding glass door, for example. Dogs are powerful, and they can leap and shatter a large windowpane in many cases. So now, rather than get your mail, you get a visit from your local animal control or even an L.A.P.D detective investigating you for attempted murder charges. Just keep your dog away from making aggressive actions against the mailman, simple.
  • Letter carriers and dog owners should avoid letting the family pet see the carrier take or hand letters back and forth. Especially in their homes, dogs could view this physical activity as an attack on the dog's owner. And if so, the dog will likely go for your hand, causing potentially long term damage, or worse.
  • The Post Office will usually give homeowners a warning, but at some point, your packagers will be available for pick up only. So now you will have to drive to the postal office, wait in line, show your ID and waste a lot of time to get your mail. Watch the video in support of USPS carrier Dog Bite Prevention here.

Even when all parties take extra precautions, a postal worker remains at risk for being bitten by a dog. And if so, this innocent worker could very well and suffer life-threatening injuries to his or her person. Remember, dog bites can involve shredded muscles, destroyed nerves, facial and other bodily disfigurements, permanent adhesions, and more. Dogs are known to lunge at heads, shoulders, necks, arms, hands, and other parts of your torso neck, shoulders, legs, arms, and torso. Trust me, the last thing you want is a dog, any dog, taking a bite out of you.

What are the Most Dangerous Cities for a Dog Attack Against a Postal Worker?

Dogs attacked a total of 5,803 USPS employees in 2019. The top 20 rankings comprise 30 cities, as some towns reported the same number of attacks:

How Does Your City Rank For 2019 Postal Employee Dog Attacks?

Houston, Texas has the most assaults by dogs against letter carriers. But my city, L.A., ranks number two, with 74 attacks. So it makes sense that letter carriers would be more alert here, and also have the technology to warn them of areas where loose dogs are present

City State 2019
HOUSTON TX 85
LOS ANGELES CA 74
CHICAGO IL 54
CLEVELAND OH 51
DALLAS TX 40
COLUMBUS OH 35
PHILADELPHIA PA 34
TOLEDO OH 32
DENVER CO 30
SAN DIEGO CA 29
BALTIMORE MD 29
LOUISVILLE KY 28
SAN ANTONIO TX 28
FORT WORTH TX 27
DETROIT MI 26
CINCINNATI OH 26
SACRAMENTO CA 25
KANSAS CITY MO 25
EL PASO TX 25
MEMPHIS TN 24
PHOENIX AZ 23
ST LOUIS MO 22
ALBUQUERQUE NM 22
LONG BEACH CA 21
JACKSONVILLE FL 21
INDIANAPOLIS IN 21
CHARLOTTE NC 21
SEATTLE WA 21
MINNEAPOLIS MN 20
DAYTON OH 20
A national map with statistics for each city can be accessed at this link. For more data related to your area, please contact your local USPS Corporate Communications professional. For more info on dog bite risks, such as most dangerous breed and reporting dog attacks, check out our dog bite law blog.
 
Also, we can assist you in cases where you were hit or injured by a postal truck or other vehicles on your delivery route. Call our attorneys at (213) 596-9642 to learn more about how we can help you get money for your troubles