USPS Says Make These Changes to "Keep Carriers Safe" If You Want Your Mail Delivered
The postal agency is warning customers about a prevalent safety problem.
Being on the postal frontlines is not for the faint of heart. Mail carriers have to deal with worrisome weather conditions and cranky customers on a daily basis. But even that is just a small fraction of what they can experience on the job. In fact, there are other pervasive safety problems that have led the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to issue new alerts, as the agency remains committed to ensuring the safety of its employees. Read on to find out about the changes the USPS is asking you to make to "keep carriers safe"—or risk not having your mail delivered.
READ THIS NEXT: USPS Is Asking for These Changes to Your Mailbox.
Thousands of USPS workers were attacked by dogs in 2022.
Aggressive animals are a major concern for the Postal Service due to the risk they pose for carriers. In a June 1 press release, the USPS revealed that more than 5,300 of its employees had been attacked by dogs while delivering the mail last year.
Even if you see your animal as non-aggressive, that doesn't mean they aren't capable of biting a carrier, as all dogs are prone to act "protective of their turf" when a stranger approaches.
"When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a 'good dog' that had not previously behaved in a menacing way," Linda DeCarlo, senior director for the USPS Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement. "In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail."
Certain areas are more prone to this problem.
As part of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness this year, the Postal Service released data showing where exactly attacks were most common in 2022.
The riskiest state for carriers was California, as 675 employees were bitten by dogs last year in that state alone. Following the Golden State, the other states in the agency's top 10 for animal attacks were Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, and North Carolina.
"In North Carolina, there were 146 dog attacks last year. Twenty-one of those took place in Charlotte," USPS spokesperson Philip Bogenberger told local NBC-affiliate WCNC in a new interview. "It may not seem like something that's a high number, but to us, one bite is one bite too many."
All postal customers are being asked to make changes to keep carriers safe.
In order to reduce the risk of animal attacks on its employees, the USPS is urging people to put their pets away when the mail is being delivered.
"Make sure that they are in an area that is fenced so that they can't access the carrier when he's trying to get to the mailbox," Bogenberger told WCNC. "If you have a pet that is indoors, but for some reason you need to, you know, engage the carrier … keep that pet in another room."
Most people know approximately what time their carrier deliveries their mail each day. During that time, the USPS cautions that all pet owners should be securing their animals—whether they're normally aggressive or not.
"We know most dogs are friendly, and everybody thinks their dog might be friendly, but the best way to keep a carrier safe is to limit that interaction," Bogenberger said.
You risk not getting your mail delivered.
USPS employees are trained to respect a dog's territory and protect themselves, if need be.
"Recently, I was delivering to a customer's mailbox and was nearly bitten by their large aggressive dog," Swain Lowe, a letter carrier in Manassas, Virginia, said in a statement. "Despite the dog being behind a fence, it still managed to jump over and charge me. Thankfully, I was aware of it and remembered not to run but to turn and use my satchel as a shield to prevent what could have been a terrible bite."
If you're worried that keeping your dog behind a fence or in another room may not be secure enough, the Postal Service also recommends keeping them on a leash when your carrier comes to your home—especially if you don't want your mail to stop being delivered.
"When a carrier feels unsafe, mail service could be halted," the USPS warned.
In fact, one loose dog can get deliveries suspended not only for the pet owner, but for the entire neighborhood, too.
"When mail service is stopped, mail must be picked up at the post office," the agency explained. "Service will not be restored until the aggressive dog is properly restrained."