How often are mail carriers in California injured by dog bites and animal attacks? According to a recent news release from the U.S. Postal Service, 6,549 mail carriers and other employees were the victims of dog attacks last year. Where did most of the dog bites occur? According to the USPS, Houston, TX was the city with the highest number of dog bites (77 in total), but San Diego was a close second with 58 dog attacks in 2015. Both numbers show an increase from 2014. For example, dog bites rose in Houston by 22%, and they actually rose by 23% in San Diego. In numerous cities across the country, the rate of animal attacks rose. As such, the USPS has made recommendations to help prevent employee dog bite injuries.
Taking Steps to Improve USPS Employee Safety
Given that dog bite injuries are on the rise in many of America’s cities—including in San Diego—the USPS has announced new safety initiatives that are aimed at preventing animal attacks on its employees. As USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo explained of the recent increase in dog bites, “dogs are protective in nature and may view our letter carriers handling mail to their owner as a threat.” Yet just because dogs are protective of the properties on which they live does not mean that USPS employees do not have options to be safer when they are doing their jobs.
What are the USPS safety initiatives? Both are intended to “alert USPS carriers of dogs on their delivery routes,” according to the news release, so that the carriers can better avoid an encounter with one of these animals. The first safety initiative already went into effect on May 13, 2016, and it concerns the process of “package pickup.” In California and throughout the country, USPS customers can schedule a package pickup, meaning that they can schedule for a mail carrier to pick up a package from their homes that they are mailing instead of the customer dropping off the package at a local post office. Now, in order for a San Diego customer to schedule a package pickup, she must indicate whether there is a dog living at her address.
The second safety initiative will go into effect later on this spring. It allows mail carriers to make an electronic note of a dog’s presence when they deliver a package. In short, when a mail carrier asks a USPS customer to sign for a package through a mobile delivery device, the mail carrier will also be able to “indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address,” according to DeCarlo. How will this help to prevent dog bites? As DeCarlo explained, “this is especially helpful to substitutes who fill-in for letter carriers on their days off.”
Customers Can Takes Preventive Measures, Too
In addition to safety initiatives that help mail carriers to know about the presence of a dog, the news release also emphasizes that residential customers can also take preventive measures when it comes to dog attacks. The USPS recommends that customers with dogs take the following steps:
- Place your dog in a separate, secure room when a USPS carrier delivers mail or a package to your home;
- Keep your dog safely secured in your home anytime a delivery person comes to the door; and
- Encourage your child to avoid taking mail from a USPS carrier within view of the family dog.
If you have questions about filing a personal injury claim due to a dog bite wound, an experienced San Diego dog bite attorney can assist you. Contact the Walton Law Firm today for more information.
(photo courtesy of Dodgerton Skillhaus)