National Dog Bite Prevention Week was first started back in 1995 in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). In honor of the 25th National Dog Bite Prevention Week in April of 2019, let's look at one demographic group with a disproportionate history of dog bites — mail carriers. Few jobs put workers in such frequent proximity to sometimes-hostile canines wary of anyone who might encroach on their "territory."
As such, the focus of the United States Postal Service (USPS) for this year's commemoration is to help prevent dog attacks with "a public service campaign that offers safety tips and emphasizes the need for increased owner responsibility."
In one recent year, there were 6,244 mail carriers bitten by dogs. The year after that saw a slight decrease, with 5,714 dog bite victims.
In March, a mail carrier in Hopkinsville was mauled by a pit bull. The month prior in Detroit, another postal worker's attack was captured on a dashcam.
Increased deliveries factor in high bite rates
One reason why so many postal carriers are getting bitten by dogs is the uptick in delivery frequency. The USPS now delivers packages seven days a week. It is believed to be the catalyst of a spate of 2016 dog bite attacks, which reached the highest peak in 30 years.
Technology could keep mail carriers stay safer
Mail carriers now use hand-held devices to confirm their customers' deliveries along their routes. They, and their customers as well, can use an app to note the presence of dogs at an address so no mail carriers are surprised.
Below are some additional tips to keep postal deliverypersons safer:
- Before opening the door to a USPS worker with a package or letter, secure your dog behind a closed door in another room.
- Some dogs perceive the gesture of a postal carrier handing their owner the mail to be a threat, so allow the carrier to place it in the box instead.
Of course, you don't have to deliver the mail to get viciously mauled by a dog. Those who have suffered serious injuries from a dog attack may decide to seek compensation from the dog's owner or the owner of the property on which the attack occurred.