About 5,800 Postal Service employees were bitten by dogs last year, the third consecutive year that the number of attacks has declined.
The total number of dog bites is down by more than 200 since 2018 and down by about 400 since 2017, according to data that USPS released June 11 to promote National Dog Bite Awareness Week, an annual campaign to highlight responsible pet ownership.
“Be Alert: Prevent the BITE” is the theme for this year’s effort, which runs from June 14-20.
“The continued decline in dog attacks shows that our customer and employee outreach about dog bite safety, along with the continued use of digital tools, is working,” said Chris Johnson, the Postal Service’s safety awareness program manager.
About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Half of these victims are children.
Several cities reported declines in dog bites, including Philadelphia, which reported 34 attacks — down from 51 in 2018 — and San Antonio, which dropped from 47 attacks in 2018 to 28 in 2019.
Other cities saw increases. Los Angeles, which ranked second, reported 74 attacks, up 13 from the year before.
Houston led the list of cities where the most attacks against postal workers was recorded last year: 85.
To help protect employees, the Postal Service in recent years has introduced Package Pickup and Mobile Delivery Device features that alert letter carriers to dogs on their routes.
In addition to these digital features, the organization is offering safety training for employees and reminders for customers. One tip: If a dog is about to attack, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a satchel, backpack or bicycle.
USPS is also reminding carriers to complete dog warning cards for addresses with dogs and to carry authorized dog repellent at all times.
The Postal Service’s Dog Bite Awareness Week, which typically occurs in April, was moved to June to coincide with the start of summer, when dog bite incidents peak.
This year’s outreach efforts will include news releases, a social media campaign and radio public service announcements.