Pa. sees nearly 300 dog bites in 2020, USPS offers tips to keep mail carriers safe


The United States Postal Service logo is seen on a mailbox. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Can you imagine one of your family members biting a mail carrier? Probably not, but it happened nearly 300 times in Pennsylvania last year.

From small bites to vicious attacks, dog behavior poses a serious threat to postal workers and the general public. In response, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is providing the do’s and don’ts of responsible dog ownership as part of its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week public service campaign.

When a dog attacks a letter carrier, the dog owner could be held liable for medical expenses, lost work hours, uniform replacement and other costs.

“I make sure that my hand can always easily access the dog repellent that I carry,” NJ letter carrier Kelly Ratz said. “I’m always mindful of my surroundings and if I need to enter a customer’s yard to deliver a package or mail, I make sure to rattle the gate loudly before entering.”

The USPS says there are four tips for preventing attacks.

  1. Door Delivery: 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.
  2. Electronic Fencing: 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. Postal Service officials request that you keep your dog restrained or inside when the mail is delivered.
  3. Dog in the Yard: Make sure your dog is properly restrained on a leash and away from where your mail carrier delivers the mail. If the carrier deems a residence unsafe because of an unrestrained dog, the mail recipient will have to pick up mail at their local Post Office.
  4. Tracking: Dog owners who have access to postal notifications are urged to use these features to determine when the mail carrier is on their way and ensure their dog has been properly restrained.

In a press release from the USPS, Pennsylvania ranked fifth in the nation for dog bites, experiencing 320 dog bites in 2019, and 291 bites in 2020.

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