Local mail carriers want to deliver a special message to dog owners about keeping their pets under control.
This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. According to the U.S. Postal Service, 5,714 postal employees were victimized by dogs last year. When a dog attacks a letter carrier, the dog owner could be held liable for all medical expenses, repayment of lost work hours, replacement of the uniform and other costs, which can run into thousands of dollars.
"That's why we're delivering this important message to the community," said Stoy Postmaster Michele Lewis.
"Several of our letter carriers know first-hand about both the prevention and the pain of animal attacks and we want to do whatever we can to help educate the community - especially parents and pet owners," she added,
The Postal Service makes the safety of its employees a top priority and dedicates a week each April to dog bite awareness. Here are four simple tips to prevent dog bite injuries year round:
If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Some dogs push through screen doors to attack visitors. Dog owners must keep the family pet secured. Never take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may see this as a threatening gesture.
Carriers may assume, if they see no physical fence around a property, that the property is animal-free. This can be a dangerous mistake. Postal officials request that dogs be kept restrained or inside when the mail is delivered. Although the electronic fence may keep your dog from wandering, it does not protect your carrier, who must enter your property to deliver the mail.
Even homes with curbside mailboxes may have oversized packages or signature-needed items that require the carrier to approach a doorstep and cross the boundaries of the electronic fence. This poses a serious risk to carrier safety.
Make sure dogs in the yard are properly restrained on leashes and away from where mail carriers deliver mail. If a carrier deems a residence unsafe because of an unrestrained dog, mail delivery service can be interrupted.
When service is interrupted at an address or in a neighborhood, all parties involved will have to pick up mail at their local post office. Service will be restored once assurance has been given that the animal will be confined during regular delivery hours.
Dog owners who have access to postal notification features, such as Informed Delivery (informeddelivery.usps.com) for letter mail and package tracking, are urged to use these features to determine when the carrier is on their way and to ensure their dog has been properly restrained.
Postal officials urge dog owners to restrain their animals on Sundays as well, as more residences now receive deliveries throughout the weekend.