The number of postal employees attacked by dogs nationwide reached 6,755 in 2016 - more than 200 higher than the year before.
The U.S. Postal Service recently released its annual ranking of top dog attack cities, highlighted safety initiatives to help protect its employees and offered tips to pet owners.
"Even good dogs have bad days," said U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo in Los Angeles, where postal employees suffered 80 attacks - more than any other city in 2016. "Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets and those who visit homes - like letter carriers - happy and healthy."
Enhancing USPS employee safety
DeCarlo highlighted USPS safety measures that alert letter carriers to dogs on their delivery routes.
The Package Pickup application on: usps.com asks customers to indicate if there are dogs at their addresses when they schedule package pickups. This information is provided to letter carriers on their delivery scanners, which also can send real-time updates if an unleashed dog is reported in a delivery area.
"The scanners that Postal Service letter carriers use to confirm a customer's delivery include a feature for carriers to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address," DeCarlo said. "This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off."
DeCarlo was in Los Angeles to kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs April 9-15.
The Postal Service, joined by the American Humane, American Veterinary Medical Association, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance, is driving home the message that dog bites are a national issue and education can help prevent dog attacks.
Half of the 4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs annually are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DeCarlo gave the following tips and encouraged sharing them using the hashtag #preventdogbites.
If a letter 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. Dogs have been known to 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 letter carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter 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 letter carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area's Post Office.
Phil Wiebold is a spokesman for U.S. Postal Service.