While dogs are our constant companions and beloved members of the family, dog bites are a public health issue. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year. In 2019, there were 5,803 U.S. Postal Service workers victimized by dogs while delivering mail and packages to homes across the United States. As Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community residents, we can do our part to help keep our USPS workers safe.
Each year, the USPS observes National Dog Bite Awareness Week. This year it takes place April 11-17. The effort is also supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This week educates USPS workers on how to prevent dog attacks. USPS mail carriers are advised not to approach or pet strange dogs. Do not run from a dog, because its instinct is to chase. If a dog threatens the mail carrier, they should not scream or make eye contact, but simply back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
Mail carriers are encouraged to do the following to prevent dog attacks:
• Carry dog repellent.
• Keep up with alerts from the USPS on hazards such as dogs on their routes.
• Report any dog incidents to their supervisors.
• Be aware of their surroundings by staying alert at all times.
• If they encounter a dog, don’t assume it won’t bite.
• Never startle a dog. Rattle a gate or make some noise before entering a fenced-in yard.
Homeowners can be responsible dog owners and help prevent an attack by controlling their dogs and using obedience training. Because they are territorial, dogs may see USPS letter carriers or other delivery persons as a threat, so dog owners should take precautions when anything is being delivered. Keep dogs inside the house, away from the door, in another room or on a leash. Or, put them in a fenced area outside temporarily. Please remember not to subject dogs to our summer heat for long periods.
As a homeowner with pets who is expecting a package to be delivered, you can check and see if your package is eligible for a special USPS service that delivers packages to a specific place near your home or keeps them at your nearest post office for you to pick up. Go to www.usps.com to find out more.