In an effort to protect mail carriers, the USPS is promoting pet safety

woman holding bag between her and dog
The USPS trains letter carriers like Alexandria City Carrier Latasha Thompson to use their satchels to shield themselves from aggressive dogs. (Courtesy USPS)

“Dog bites mail carrier” isn’t just a cliché – more than 5,300 employees were attacked while delivering the mail last year, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

So, this week the USPS is promoting canine safety with a National Dog Bite Awareness campaign. Despite Alaskans’ affinity for dogs, the state was relatively low on the incident list with eight bites last year and four so far this year. That’s according to USPS spokesperson James Boxrud, who said it’s important to prevent any future bites.

“Especially during the summer [when] kids are home from school, they’re out there playing with the dog. The dog’s doing what, you know, he’s trying to protect his territory, his natural instincts come out,” Boxrud said.

The theme of the public service campaign is “even good dogs have bad days.” Boxrud said it’s worth being cautious with even the best trained dogs.

Let’s not risk it. It’s not worth having your animal that you love, that’s a part of your family, end up biting somebody,” he said. “And then it’s just uncomfortable for everybody.”

Boxrud advises owners to keep in mind the time their mail carrier usually arrives, and to put their dog inside or in the backyard beforehand. Letter carriers are trained to be especially cautious handing mail to children, as that can often incite defensive behavior in dogs. 

Michael Fanelli reported on economics and hosted the statewide morning news at Alaska Public Media. 

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