When the average person thinks of dog attacks on mail carriers, they will often get the image of a scene from an old comedy television show in their head with the vicious dog chasing the hapless mail carrier off of the screen. However, dog attacks on mail carriers in real life are a source of serious injuries, and not a laughing matter.
Dog Attacks On Mail Carriers Are On The Rise
Dog attacks on mail carriers are no laughing matter. Take the case of mail carrier Robert Rochester, he was a mail carrier in the town of Stanton, Delaware when he was attacked by a full-grown German shepherd on his rounds one day. The attack went on until a passerby stopped their car to allow Rochester to escape the attack. When the civilian got Rochester to the hospital, he had serious injuries all over his body. Rochester died a few days later in the hospital, that’s how severe his dog bite injuries were.
The U.S. Postal Service released the figures for dog attacks on carriers in the U.S. in 2016, and the final count was 6,755 total attacks. This number is up by 206 attacks from 2015, and it is showing a growing trend among the dangers of carrying mail. The city of Philadelphia was 14th on the list with 40 attacks, which is half of the total of the top city Los Angeles, which came in at 80 attacks. All in all, approximately two percent of mail carriers in the United States were bitten in 2016.
When Philadelphia mail carriers were asked about dog attacks, they all indicated that the fear of vicious dogs is a way of life when you decide to become a mail carrier. Every mail carrier has, or will, find themselves running from a vicious dog at some point in their career. Luckily, only two percent actually get bitten, but it is still a very real threat that our mail carriers face every single day.
Why Are Attacks Increasing?
The numbers of mail carriers being attacked have been steadily on the rise since 2013, and there is a theory circulating about why this is happening. Since 2010, the number of packages delivered by the U.S. Postal Service has increased by 1.5 billion. To read that number correctly, that is not the number of packages that had been delivered from 2010 to 2016. That is the number of packages above and beyond the normal number that has been delivered by an increasing number of U.S. Postal Service mail carriers.
With the growing popularity of online shopping, mail carriers are taking more packages to more addresses than ever before. When carriers have to take on an extra volume of mail, that exposes carriers to more potential issues within the areas where they work. The more houses carriers have to deliver to during their regular routes, the more exposure they have to dogs that are both restrained pets that can escape, and dogs that roam around in neighborhoods.
Proactive Steps Being Taken To Stop The Attacks
The U.S. Postal Service has been stepping up its training for mail carriers on how to handle dog attacks. In 2017, the USPS has brought in a professional dog training company to help carriers understand what they can do to protect themselves in the event of an attack. They are also being trained on how they can possibly diffuse the situation from the beginning.
However, the USPS is also doing what it can to help educate dog owners on the real dangers their pets pose to mail carriers. The USPS is no longer allowing dog owners to stand on the sidelines and claim that their dog does not bite. Mail customers will be asked to read material given to them by their carrier to help understand why dogs attack, and to know what owners can do to prevent their mail carriers from getting serious injuries from their dogs.