More than 5,800 Postal Service employees were attacked by dogs last year, an increase compared with 2019 that can be attributed to more people being home and more packages being delivered during the coronavirus pandemic.
The organization reported the numbers this week in advance of USPS National Dog Bite Awareness Week, which will take place from June 12-18.
Houston led the pack of cities where the most bites occurred — 73. Rounding out the top five cities were Chicago (59), Los Angeles (54), Cleveland (46) and Denver (44).
The top state was California at 782, up from 777 attacks reported in 2019.
Of the top 10 states for bites, six saw a decrease year over year, with Texas’s being particularly substantial, from 491 in 2019 to 402 in 2020.
The general trend in the past few years has been a decrease or plateauing in bite incidents nationwide.
However, as anyone who’s been on the receiving end can tell you, one bite is too many, and there’s a lot of work to be done educating humans on how to train and interact with dogs.
“Raising awareness about dog bite prevention and how to protect our letter carriers as we deliver the mail is paramount,” said Jamie Seavello, acting safety and health awareness manager for USPS.
“Dogs are instinctive animals that may act to protect their turf and that why’s it’s important to inform the public about this campaign.”
The theme for 2021 is “Be Aware: Any Dog Can Bite.” As in years past, the effort aims to promote bite prevention and best practices for both pet guardians and letter carriers.
The Postal Service provides dog bite prevention safety training for employees and reminders for customers.
One tip: To prevent dog attacks, carriers should use dog warning cards and pay attention to mobile delivery device scanner alerts about dogs on their route.
Informed Delivery, a free feature that offers digital previews of incoming mail, and Package Pickup are also useful tools in bite prevention because advance notification of a delivery gives customers an opportunity to secure dogs before a carrier arrives.