USPS Just Sent Out This Major Warning About a "Serious Threat" to Everyone
You could get your mail service suspended, but that's not the only danger.
If you've found yourself growing increasingly frustrated at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), you're not alone. From staffing shortages to budget cuts, the agency has been struggling under the weight of constant challenges, and these have snowballed into annoying issues for customers like major delivery delays. Now, the USPS is back with less-than-ideal news, warning Americans about a mail problem that could affect them. Read on to find out what the agency says is a "serious threat" to everyone.
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USPS has warned customers about multiple issues recently.
The Postal Service has been working to warn customers across the country about a number of major challenges that might impact them—either now or later down the line. In March, the USPS started alerting customers about an increasing number of checks being stolen out of the mail, with mail theft complaints having increased by 161 percent from March 2020 to Feb. 2021, according to the Inspector General of the USPS.
As if that's not troubling enough, a few months later in May, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that we should start preparing to see postage prices increasing at an "uncomfortable" rate, warning that he will continue pushing for price hikes until the USPS appears to be more "self-sustaining."
Now, there's a new "serious threat" the agency is sounding the alarm on.
The Postal Service just issued a new warning about a "serious threat" to everyone.
As part of an awareness initiative, the USPS released a new notice on June 3, warning Americans about animal attacks around the country. According to the agency, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the U.S. in 2021 alone. "From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to postal employees and the public," the USPS said.
Some cities are more dangerous than others. The Postal Service reported that Cleveland, Ohio, was the worst offender for dog attacks in 2021 with 58 attacks against mail carriers. Other major cities in the top 25 worst cities for dog attacking mail carriers included Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees as seriously as we take our commitment to deliver America's mail. Each year, nearly 6,000 employees are attacked by dogs while on their routes," Linda DeCarlo, a senior director for USPS Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement.
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Mail carriers are trained on how to avoid provoking a dog.
If you think this problem doesn't involve you, you might be mistaken. The Postal Service said that many of the animal attacks reported by mail carriers in 2021 came from dogs whose owners regularly said, "My dog won't bite." And the attacks happened despite carriers being trained to try to prevent provoking dogs by not startling them, keeping their eyes on them, making some noise or ratting a fence to alert them if entering a yard, and never petting or feeding them, according to the USPS.
"I was bit by a dog on my leg recently and my mail satchel helped shield me," Francisco Juarez, a letter carrier who delivers in Houston, said in a statement. "The sound of a dog barking while on my route puts me on high alert and I try to be ready to protect myself."
The USPS warns that "even friendly dogs will bite, depending on their circumstance" because they are primarily territorial in nature and have an instinct to protect their owners and their owners' property. "Defending its territory sometimes means attacking—and possibly biting—the letter carrier," the Postal Service explains.
But even if you're not at danger of being bitten yourself, animal attacks on letter carriers can have consequences for you in a different way.
The postal agency can suspend your mail service if a dog is running loose.
The Postal Service does not take attacks on its workers lightly. You could have your mail service suspended or temporarily withdrawn if there is believed to be an animal threat to carriers on or around your property, according to the agency. In fact, an entire neighborhood in Greenfield, Indiana, just had their postal service suspended last month "due to ongoing and unresolved issues with loose dogs in the area."
According to the USPS, residents must pick up their mail at their local Post Office when service is stopped, and it doesn't get restored until the agency is assured that the dog is properly restrained. "Dog owners are responsible for controlling their dogs. The best way to keep everyone safe from dog bites is to recognize and promote responsible pet ownership," the USPS says.
According to the agency, most people know what time their mail carrier typically arrives every day. To prepare for this, homeowners should secure their dogs before the carrier approaches your home to minimize any potential interaction. This includes either keeping dogs inside the house, behind a fence, away from the door, in another room, or on a leash.
"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," Leeann Theriault, manager for the USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness, said in a statement.
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