Dogs attacked nearly 6,000 postal workers in 2020, forced mail to stop in some neighborhoods

USPS carrierloads mail into her delivery pouch.
USPS carrier loads mail into her delivery pouch. Photo credit USA Today (Trevor Hughes)
By , KCBS Radio

While the U.S. Postal Service has struggled with nationwide slowdowns and crippling backlogs, new data shows a large number of mail carriers faced another obstacle on the job: dog attacks.

More than 5,800 postal employees were attacked by dogs last year, according to the mail service. There were more attacks in 2020 than the year before. USPS attributes the increased attacks to more people being home, increased online shopping and package deliveries, and more dog adoptions. Dogs attacked 1.15% of letter carriers on the job.

Canine encounters ranged from nips and bites to vicious attacks.

Calling it a public health issue, the Postal Service releases its annual list of dog attacks by location. At 782, California had the highest number of attacks of any state. Texas (402), Ohio (369), New York (295), and Pennsylvania (291) followed. Houston (73) topped the list of cities, followed by Chicago (59), Los Angeles (54), Cleveland (46), and Denver (44).

“Aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to postal employees and the general public,” USPS said in a statement. “When a carrier feels unsafe, mail service could be interrupted, not only for the dog owner but for the entire neighborhood.”

The Postal Service stopped mail delivery along a residential street in Salt Lake City last year because of dogs. Neighbors have been required to pick up their mail from the post office for more than six months because of an “unrestrained and potentially dangerous dog that roams the [block],” according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Mail carriers are alerted to homes with dogs with a notification on their handheld scanners. Warning cards are also used as reminders when mail is sorted, according to the USPS.

USPS said it will continue to educate dog owners as part of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week, from June 12th through 18th.

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