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Still too high

Dog attacks decline, but more work needed

Man looks at dog sitting near him
Bryan Colletti, a Connecticut Valley District safety specialist, watches Ian, a Belgian Malinois that participated in a demonstration during the National Dog Bite Prevention Week kickoff press conference April 11 in Brooklyn, NY.

The number of Postal Service employees attacked by dogs fell to 5,714 last year — about 500 fewer than the number attacked in 2017 and 1,000 fewer than the number attacked in 2016.

Although the decline is encouraging, the number of attacks is still too high, USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo told reporters at an April 11 press conference.

“Our letter carriers are often told not to worry, ‘My dog won’t bite.’ The truth is that if your dog has teeth, it can bite,” DeCarlo said. “Last year, more than 5,700 Postal Service employees dealt with this firsthand.”

The Postal Service held the press conference to kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an annual campaign to highlight responsible pet ownership. This year’s effort will run from April 14-20.

The decrease in dog attacks is attributed to measures like increased employee training; a Mobile Delivery Device feature that alerts mail carriers about dogs on their routes; and a Package Pickup application that allows customers to indicate if a dog is at their address.

This year during National Dog Bite Prevention Week, USPS will highlight Informed Delivery, a free feature that allows customers to preview their incoming mail and packages on smartphones and other devices. If a customer receives an Informed Delivery notification that a package will soon arrive, he or she is encouraged to ensure the family dog is inside, away from the door during delivery.

The Postal Service is offering customers other tips, too, including not letting dogs run loose in the neighborhood and not allowing children to take mail directly from a carrier in the presence of a pet, who could see this as a threatening gesture.

“Being a responsible pet owner should happen more than one week every year,” DeCarlo said. “This is an everyday commitment.”

The press conference was held in Brooklyn, NY, where 22 USPS employees were attacked last year. One employee, Jean Pierre Salamanca, a White River, NY, rural carrier, recalled being bitten in 2016.

“Before I worked for the Post Office, I thought it was a myth or something people just said about letter carriers, but it’s a real thing,” he said. “It happened to me and it can happen to any carrier.”

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