AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas ranks second nationwide for the most dog attacks on U.S. Postal Service workers last year.
A total of 368 attacks were reported statewide in 2021. Only California reported more, with 656 attacks.
Nationwide, more than 5,400 postal workers were attacked by dogs last year.
Now, the USPS is reminding dog owners to be responsible as part of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign.
This year’s campaign runs from June 5 through June 11. The theme? “The USPS Delivers for America — Deliver for Us by Restraining Your Dog.”
“The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees as seriously as we take our commitment to delivering America’s mail. Each year, nearly 6,000 employees are attacked by dogs while on their routes,” said USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo. “Please deliver for us by being responsible pet owners and make sure your dogs are secured when our carrier comes to your mailbox.”
Cleveland, Ohio, reported more dog attacks than any other city in 2021, 58 in total. Houston ranked second, with 54 attacks. Dallas, San Antonio and Fort Worth also appear in the list of cities with the most dog attacks.
Although more attacks were reported in California than any other state, Wyoming has the most per resident. Wyoming saw 3.6 dog attacks for every 100,000 residents. Ohio was second, at 3.1 per 100,000, and Iowa ranked third with 2.9 attacks per 100,000 residents.
Texas reported 1.3 dog attacks for every 100,000 residents. North Dakota ranked lowest, with 0.5 attacks per 100,000.
Securing your dog before a mail carrier approaches will help minimize interactions between dogs and postal workers. When a worker comes to your home, USPS asks that you keep dogs inside the house or behind a fence, away from the door or in another room, or on a leash. Pet owners should also remind children not to take mail directly from postal workers because the dog may view the worker as a threat.
USPS also has a free tool, Informed Delivery, that you can use to see a digital preview of the mail and packages that are scheduled to be delivered. You can then take precautions and secure your dog when mail is delivered.
Postal carriers are trained to observe areas where they know dogs may be present. Training includes not startling a dog, keeping their eyes on a dog, never assuming a dog won’t bite and never attempting to pet or feed a dog. Carriers are also trained to make some noise or rattle a fence to alert a dog if entering a yard.
If a dog does attack, postal workers are trained to stand their ground and protect their bodies by placing something between them and the dog, such as their mail satchel. They may also use dog repellent if necessary.
“I was bit by a dog on my leg recently, and my mail satchel helped shield me,” said Houston postal worker Francisco Juarez. “The sound of a dog barking while on my route puts me on high alert, and I try to be ready to protect myself.”
Mail carriers use a dog alert feature on their handheld scanners to remind them of possible hazards. They also use dog warning cards as reminders when sorting mail for their routes. If a carrier feels unsafe, mail service is halted, not only for the dog owner but for the entire neighborhood. When this happens, mail must be picked up at the post office, and service is not restored until the dog in question is properly restrained.