FLORIDA — Florida postal carriers have a tough job. When they are not fighting Mother Nature to get an important package or letter delivered on time, another threat can make the job challenging at times: biting dogs.
From nips and bites to vicious attacks, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the United States in 2021. Many attacks reported by letter carriers came from dogs whose owners regularly stated, “My dog won’t bite,” the postal service said.
Florida ranks eighth nationally in the number of postal workers being bitten by dogs, according to data released by the United States Postal Service. The Sunshine State registered 201 mail carriers who were bitten by dogs in 2021 — two more than the previous year.
California took the No. 1 spot with 656 dog bites, which was almost double the total reported by postal carriers in Texas, which ranked second with 356.
Among metropolitan areas, Miami took the No. 22 spot with 18 bitten mail carriers, which tied with Dayton. Cleveland topped the charts among U.S. cities with 58, followed by Houston (54), Kansas City (48) and Los Angeles (44), the postal service reported.
The ranking came out Sunday, the first day of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week public service campaign, which continues through Saturday. The theme this year: “The USPS Delivers for America — Deliver for Us by Restraining Your Dog.”
“Every year, thousands of postal employees are attacked by dogs as they deliver America’s mail. And while it’s a dog’s natural instinct to protect their family and home, we ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered,” said USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault. “When a carrier comes to the residence, keep the dog inside the house and away from the door — or behind a fence on a leash — to avoid an attack.”
When a letter carrier comes to your home, the U.S. Postal Service recommends keeping dogs:
- Inside the house or behind a fence;
- Away from the door or in another room; or
- On a leash.
Pet owners also should remind their children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier as the dog may view the carrier as a threat.
According to USPS, letter carriers are trained to observe an area where they know dogs may be present. They are taught to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions and to respect a dog’s territory.
If a dog attacks, carriers are also trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary, the postal service said.
When dog bites happen, this can result in injuries to carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners, the postal service warned.