USPS works to raise dog bite awareness

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

The United States Postal Service is working to raise awareness this week, officials said Wednesday.

The announcement came in light of 36 letter carriers bitten by dogs last fiscal year and another 28 so far this year. Included in that number is an incident at Andalusia’s West Haven apartment complex last July.

“Today’s news reports are filled with stories of children, adults – even other animals – who have been injured, or even killed in vicious animal attacks,” said Debra Fetterly, USPS spokesperson. “National Dog Bite Prevention Week is May 19-25, and is an opportunity to emphasize to the public that responsible pet ownership can prevent these disturbing attacks.”

Fetterly said the USPS has joined the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Insurance Information Institute and Prevent the Bite to “drive home the message that dog bites are a nationwide issues and that education can help prevent dog attacks to people of all ages.”

“The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority,” Fetterly said. “Letter carriers fearing for their safety due to a loose or unrestrained pet may stop delivery and ask homeowners to pick up their mail at the Post Office until the pet is restrained. In cases where a carrier sees a dog roaming and can’t discern where it resides, delivery could be interrupted to the entire neighborhood.”

That was the case last July at the West Haven apartment complex, where mail delivery was suspended for nearly two months after a postal carrier encountered a “threat of injury or attack by dogs roaming loose.” The Andalusia Housing Authority purchased and installed new cluster boxes at the complex.

Fetterly offered the following tips to avoid attacks:

• Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog;

• Don’t run past a dog, it’s its natural instinct to chase you.

• If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, the back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

• Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or caring for puppies.

• Anyone wanting to pet a dog should first obtain permission from the owner.


Don’t forget to be a responsible pet owner, Fetterly said.

• When letter carriers and others who are not familiar with your dog come to your home, keep your dog inside, in another room away from the door.

• Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.