DALLAS — You know that old trope you see and movies and cartoons where dogs attack postal workers? Well, turns out there's some truth behind it -- so much so that dog attacks on mail carriers is something the United States Postal Service (USPS) tracks.
And in Texas, it seems like dogs particularly love attacking postal workers: Texas ranked as second-worst state for do attacks on mail carriers in 2022 with 404 of them. Texas's volume of dog attacks trailed only that of California's 675 last year.
As cities go, Dallas ranked as the third-worst city in the country with 44 dog attacks in 2022, trailing only the No. 1-ranked Houston (57 attacks) and No. 2-ranked Los Angeles 48 attacks).
Beyond the old cliché of dogs just despising mail deliverers, there's some real danger at play when these attacks happens, the USPS said.
“When letter carriers deliver mail in our communities, dogs that are not secured or leashed can become a nemesis and unpredictable and attack,” said USPS employee safety and health awareness manager Leeann Theriault in a statement. “Help us deliver your mail safely by keeping your dog secure and out of the way before your carrier arrives.”
USPS says more than 5,300 of their employees were attacked by dogs while delivering mail last year, and that aggressive dog behavior is a common safety concern they face.
This June, the USPS is running a campaign called National Dog Bite Awareness Week with a theme of "Even good dogs have bad days."
USPS advises that pet owners securing their dogs before their mail carrier approaches will minimize potentially dangerous interactions. They also advise that pet owners to keep dogs either inside, behind a fence, on a leash or away from the door when the mail traditionally arrives at their door.
Children should also not take mail directly from a carrier either, USPS advises, as dogs may view the carrier as a threat to the child.
“When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a ‘good dog’ that had not previously behaved in a menacing way,” said USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo in a statement. “In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail. Please help us reduce that number by being a responsible pet owner who secures their dog as we deliver the mail.”
USPS mail carriers are also trained to be alert and to respect a dog's territory while delivering, as well as trained on how to react should a dog attack or try to attack them.
“Recently, I was delivering to a customer’s mailbox and was nearly bitten by their large aggressive dog,” said Swain Lowe, a letter carrier in Manassas, Virginia. “Despite the dog being behind a fence, it still managed to jump over and charge me. Thankfully, I was aware of it and remembered not to run but to turn and use my satchel as a shield to prevent what could have been a terrible bite.”