Postal Service Asking Public to Help Prevent Dog Bites

May 20, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

Letter carriers from the Friendship Post Office show the places where they have been bitten by dogs while delivering mail in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Letter carriers from the Friendship Post Office show the places where they have been bitten by dogs while delivering mail in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The relationship between mailmen and dogs isn’t always the best. Cartoon depictions of mailmen running from barking dogs while delivering mail has given the issue a comical tint, yet among postal workers, the problem is serious.

Last year alone, according to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), 2,863 postal employees were attacked by dogs. Some dog attacks require stitches or even plastic surgery.

“We often hear two tall tales at the Postal Service—‘the check’s in the mail,’ and ‘don’t worry, my dog won’t bite’,” stated Delores Killette, USPS vice president and consumer advocate in a press release.

“Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. Working with animal behavior experts, we’ve developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership,” Killette added.

To try and quell the problem, the postal service has taken serious steps. To help educate pet owners and postal staff, the postal service is promoting National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and working with the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Veterinarian Medical Association, and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, as well as others.

They are encouraging pet owners to get obedience training for dogs, and to not let children take mail from postal workers, since dogs tend to be especially protective of children. They are also promoting that pet owners spay or neuter their dogs, since it makes the dogs less likely to bite.

Letter carriers may not deliver to homes that have dogs running in the yard, and homeowners may have to pick up their mail at the post office. Neighborhoods with dogs roaming the streets may not be delivered to at all, and residents will have to pick up their mail from the post office.

In the case of a run-in with a dog, the post office has tips for workers: don’t run past dogs, don’t scream, avoid eye contact, and don't make any unnecessary moves while backing off slowly once the dog is out of sight.

Follow Joshua on Twitter: @JoshJPhilipp