Local

Coast city ranks high for dog attacks on mail carriers

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier encounters a barking a dog in 2013 in Atlanta. Annual Postal Service rankings show the Gulfport post office reported four dog-related incidents with injuries in the past year, compared with six reported in Jackson.
U.S. Postal Service letter carrier encounters a barking a dog in 2013 in Atlanta. Annual Postal Service rankings show the Gulfport post office reported four dog-related incidents with injuries in the past year, compared with six reported in Jackson. AP File

Man’s so-called best friend has put Gulfport second in Mississippi for the number of dog attacks on postal workers.

Annual rankings from the U.S. Postal Service show the Gulfport post office reported four dog-related incidents with injuries in the past year, compared with six reported in Jackson. They’re the state’s most populated cities.

Ocean Springs ranked third place in a tie with the Amory post office. Each reported three incidents last year.

A total of 48 dog-related injuries to letter carriers were reported statewide last year. That’s as many as the entire city of Detroit, said Doug Kyle of the U.S. Postal Service state office in Jackson.

Nationwide, a total of 6,755 were reported, more than 200 incidents than in the previous year.

That’s why the U.S. Postal Service is urging pet owners to secure their dogs before opening their door to a postal worker delivering a package; and to not bring a dog with them if they’re retrieving their just-delivered mail.

The annual dog-attack city rankings don’t include just dog attacks, but any dog-related incident that injures a postal worker.

More than attacks

“It’s not purely tooth-penetrating skin,” said “For instance, a chihuahua jumps at a carrier and doesn’t bite, but startles the carrier, who jumps back, hits his head or twists his knee. Or a carrier sees a pit bull coming and sprains his ankle as he runs.”

Dog owners naturally have emotional attachments to their owners, who sometimes tell postal workers their dog is harmless, Kyle said.

The annual rankings tell the Postal Service of areas that need attention in public safety advisories.

Fido or Bella may have lovable personalities, but they can put postal workers in danger, Kyle said.

“Before an incident happens, dog owners say, ‘Oh, my dog would never hurt you,” he said. “And when an incident happens, the owners say, ‘I never thought my dog would do that.”

Dogs have been known to bust through screen doors and plate-glass windows to attack visitors, Kyle said. And good dogs sometimes have a bad day.

The USPS has three tips for customers with dogs:

  • If a postal worker delivers mail or a package to your front door, put your dog in a room and shut the door before you open your front door.
  • Parents should tell children and other relatives not to take mail from a carrier in front of the family pet. The dog could perceive the gesture as a threatening.
  • For safety measures, if letter carriers feel threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owners could be asked to pick up their mail at the post office. And if a dog is roaming, the owner’s neighbors may also be asked to pick up their own mail.

“With 32 different post offices in the state, we’ve looked at the rankings for several years,” Kyle said. “The rankings tell us where we need to raise awareness.”

New Orleans, the closest metropolitan area to make the “top 30” list, had 25 dog incidents last year.

The USPS has safety measures to alert letter carriers of dogs on their delivery routes. The application for a package pickup, for instance, asks customers to say if they have dogs at home when they schedule a package pickup.

The rankings are released as a public safety advisory in advance of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which started Sunday and runs through Saturday.

  Comments