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More than 5,300 Mail Carriers Bitten in 2022

21 Jun, 2023 Liz Carey

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Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – More than 5,300 U.S. Postal Service employees were bitten by dogs in 2022, the latest statistics from the U.S.P.S. show.

In a new report released for National Dog Bite Awareness Week June 4-11, the U.S.P.S. said its employees face aggressive dog behavior on the job regularly. Dog owners play an important part in keeping postal service employees safe, the organization said.

“When letter carriers deliver mail in our communities, dogs that are not secured or leashed can become a nemesis and unpredictable and attack,” said Leeann Theriault, USPS employee safety and health awareness manager. “Help us deliver your mail safely by keeping your dog secure and out of the way before your carrier arrives.”

Houston had the most bites with 57, followed by Los Angeles with 48; Dallas with 44; Cleveland with 43; and San Diego with 39.

The top three states for dog bites were California, Texas and New York. However, Ohio had six cities in the top 25, including Columbus, ranked number 13 with 23 bites; Cincinnati, ranked 14, with 22; Toledo in 16th place with 20; Akron in 17th with 19 and Dayton in 18th with 18 bites.

In 2020, more than 5,800 postal service employees were bitten, the post office said. Phoenix was ranked ninth for the number of dog attacks on mail carriers with 32. In 2021, the city ranked 14th with just 28 attacks.

Arizona USPS spokesperson Rod Spurgeon told Arizona Central that attacks statewide also increased. Last year, 78 postal employees in Arizona were attacked by dogs, compared to 68 in 2021.

In August of last year, a Florida postal carrier was killed when she was mauled by five dogs that had escaped their yard.

Pamela Rock, 61, was delivering mail in Interlachen Lake Estates, Fla., when her mail truck broke down. Officials said Rock had only started working for the Postal Service in December of 2021. Witnesses told police they heard Rock screaming for help and saw the pack of dogs attacking her.

As onlookers rushed to pull the dogs off of her, one neighbor fired a rifle into the air to scare them off, officials said, but the dogs would not let go of her. Deputies said when they arrived on the scene, Rock was on the ground bleeding profusely. She was transported to HCA Florida Putnam Hospital before being air-lifted to a trauma center in Gainesville in critical condition where doctors amputated her arm in an attempt to save her life.

Rock eventually succumbed to her injuries, officials said.

“A postal family member lost her life in a dog bite attack. The US Postal Service is deeply saddened at the loss of our employee,” a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and her co-workers at this time.”

Florida officials found did not file charges against the dog owner, and an OSHA investigation into the incident did not find any safety violation. The State Attorney’s Office said the dogs’ owner tried to surrender the dogs twice, including once less than two weeks before the attack.

All of the dogs were euthanized, officials said.

Postal service employees are trained to stand their ground and to protect their body by putting something between them and the dog, and to use dog repellent, if necessary. Additionally, mail carriers have tools, like a dog alert feature on handheld devices and dog warning cards, that can warn them of dogs that may interfere with delivery.

Post office officials said mail service can be halted if a carrier feels unsafe. The action may impact not just the dog owner, but the entire neighborhood. In cases when service is stopped, the post office will not resume service until the dog is properly restrained, USPS said.

The Postal Service said attacks can happen with even dogs considered good dogs.

“When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a ‘good dog’ that had not previously behaved in a menacing way,” said USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo. “In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail. Please help us reduce that number by being a responsible pet owner who secures their dog as we deliver the mail.”

The USPS recommends keeping dogs inside the house, behind a fence or on a leash. Officials said to not have children accept mail directly from mail carriers as dogs may perceive the mail carrier as a threat to the child.

Joe Willers, a letter carrier in Phoenix post office said dog owners can help reduce the number of attacks as well.

"If you know at what time the mail will arrive, please secure your dog before we come near your door," Willers said. "We want to deliver your mail safely, none of us want to get bit. Please help us do our job and avoid unpredictable attacks."


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    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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