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Down dog

Attacks decline, but more work needed, USPS says

Man in suit and five uniformed postal worker strike action pose on stage
At the National Dog Bite Prevention Week kickoff event April 5, San Francisco Postmaster Abraham Cooper and five San Diego letter carriers demonstrate dog bite safety. From left are Abraham and Lisa Takayama, Elizabeth Limon, Aaron Santos, Jennifer Flores and Mark Knowlton.

Dogs attacked 6,244 Postal Service employees last year — more than 500 fewer than the number attacked in 2016 but still far too many, the organization’s leaders say.

The decline is linked to safety measures that USPS introduced in recent years, including Package Pickup and Mobile Delivery Device features that alert letter carriers to dogs on their routes.

“We’re encouraged by the decrease in dog attacks,” said Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. “The totals are still too high, but we’re confident that with continuing education and dog bite prevention training, along with advancing technology, we can keep more people safe and keep attacks trending downward.”

The Postal Service announced the statistics at an event to kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an annual campaign to highlight responsible pet ownership. This year’s effort runs from Sunday, April 8-Saturday, April 14.

The kickoff was held in San Diego, where 46 USPS employees were bitten last year, making it the nation’s fifth-ranked city for dog attacks against postal workers. The list is led by Houston, where 71 employees were attacked.

In addition to using digital tools, USPS works to reduce dog attacks through safety training for employees and reminders for customers. One tip: Don’t let your dog run loose in the neighborhood, even if you think the animal is friendly and doesn’t bite.

About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of these victims are children.

Mark Stubis, chief communications officer for American Humane, cited research that shows most dog bite fatalities involve children and unsupervised newborns left with dogs.

“[That’s] something that should never occur,” he said.

In addition to organizing National Dog Bite Prevention Week every April, USPS works throughout the year to educate employees and customers about attacks and how to prevent them.

The Postal Service’s news release has more information.

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