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Postal Workers Attacked by Dogs Every Day, USPS Says  

08 Jun, 2024 Liz Carey

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Washington, DC ( – More than 15 U.S. Postal Service workers are attacked by dogs every day, officials said.   

The USPS released its annual report on dog attacks during its 2024 National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign, its annual campaign to raise awareness of dog attacks on its employees. The postal service said dog attacks are growing, with more than 5,800 letter carriers reporting being bitten last year.   

“Letter carriers are exposed to potential hazards every day, none more prevalent than a canine encounter. All it takes is one interaction for a letter carrier to possibly suffer an injury,” said Leeann Theriault, USPS Manager, Employee Safety and Health Awareness. “The U.S. Postal Service consistently encourages responsible pet ownership. The national dog bite campaign is an effort to promote dog bite awareness to keep our customers, their dogs, and letter carriers safe while delivering the mail.”  

And those bites can be costly. The USPS said the average cost per insurance claim for a dog bite is $64,555, according to the Insurance Information Institute. When a letter carrier suffers an injury, officials said, the dog’s owner could be responsible for medical bills, lost wages, uniform replacement costs, and pain and suffering for the employee.   

The post office said that all letter carriers know that any dog can bite, even those that don’t seem to be aggressive. Letter carriers are trained, officials said, and are taught to not only observe the area where they know dogs may be present, but also to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions and to respect a dog’s territory.   

“Even though a customer’s dog is friendly to most people, it can always have a bad day,” letter carrier Tara Snyder said in a statement. “I know, from experience, even when a dog is in the house, customers need to make sure their door is secure so their dog can’t push it open and bite the letter carrier.”  

According to the USPS, California saw the greatest number of dog bite incidents for mail delivery personnel in 2023 with 727 cases, up from 675 in 2022. Texas came in second with 411 incidents, followed by Ohio (350), Pennsylvania (334) and Illinois (316). New York, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and Missouri rounded out the top 10 states.   

USPS officials said Los Angeles was the city with the most dog attacks with 65, followed by Houston with 56, Chicago with 48, St. Louis with 46, and Cleveland with 44.  

The USPS said that if a carrier feels unsafe, mail service can be stopped. If that happens, a dog owner will have to pick up their mail at the local Post Office until the carrier feels safe enough to restart delivery.   

In March of this year, a letter carrier was attacked by a pair of dogs on her route. Tamara Hartford was delivering mail near Jasper, Texas, when she was attacked. Officials said she had just walked out of her vehicle to place a package on the porch of a home when the two dogs charged at her. An off-duty Jasper County Sheriff’s Deputy heard Hartford screaming and ran toward her. He found Hartford under attack on the ground. The deputy shot and killed one of the dogs, and shot at the other, a pit bull, that ran off. Deputies were able to secure the second dog later.   

Hartford was taken to a nearby hospital before being flown to a Houston hospital to undergo a number of surgeries to close, clean and repair her wounds.    

And in January of this year, a postal work in Georgia was found bloody and motionless on a garage floor with two dogs standing over her body. The 36-year-old letter carrier was delivering mail to a home in Statesboro on Jan. 19 when she was attacked. As she dropped off the package by the door, the two dogs began to attack her, authorities said.   

A woman on the phone with the letter carrier called 911 to report the attack. She said she had driven to the house and had honked her horn at the dogs in an attempt to get them off of the letter carrier, but they continued to attack her. When first responders arrived on the scene, the letter carrier was in the garage, completely nude, bloody and not moving. The dogs would not let anyone in the garage, so deputies shot one of them with a rubber-ball round. That dog ran off and the other was contained in the corner so medical personnel could reach the letter carrier. She was airlifted to a nearby hospital where she was treated for her injuries.  

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    About The Author

    • 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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