One carrier had just placed the mail in the mailbox and was walking away when the homeowner opened the door and the dog lunged at the carrier. To ward off the attack she put her hand up, and the dog bit her hand so badly she had to have surgery and spend time out of work. Another carrier had just placed a package on the porch so that it could not be seen from the curb. The dog inside the house was barking and charging the window. Suddenly, the glass shattered from the force of the dog’s nails and the glass flew out and splintered across the porch. The dog ran back into the house, but the carrier suffered severe damage from the glass and is still in rehab months after the incident.

These are just two examples of the kind of dog attacks that letter carriers in the Greater Indiana District face every day.

The Postal Service reported that 6,549 employees were attacked by dogs last year, and released its annual top dog attack city rankings. USPS also shared information on new safety initiatives that have been put in place to help protect employees.

In 2015, Indianapolis ranked 16th in the nation in the number of dog attacks in the city, four less than in 2014. In the past week, several carriers in Indianapolis have been attacked by dogs. On the national ranking, Fort Wayne is in 72nd place and South Bend 121st. To date, there have been 83 dog attacks this year throughout the Greater Indiana District.

“Dogs are protective in nature and may view our letter carriers handing mail to their owner as a threat,” said Sheila Helmold, manager of Safety at the Greater Indiana District.

Enhancing Employee Safety
The Postal Service has introduced two new safety measures to alert USPS Carriers of dogs on their delivery routes. The first went into effect May 13 on’s Package Pickup application. Customers will be asked to indicate if there is a dog at their address when they schedule a package pickup. The second goes into effect later this spring.

“The Mobile Delivery Devices that letter carriers use to scan packages to confirm delivery will include a feature that allows carriers to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address. This is especially helpful to substitutes who fill-in for letter carriers on their days off,” said USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. The Postal Service, joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance are driving home the message that dog bites are a nationwide issue and that education can help prevent dog attacks to people of all ages.

Of the 4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs annually, half of all victims are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Many attacks to children are by the family pet or a dog familiar to the child, so it’s important to keep children and dogs separate, especially if a dog is known to act aggressively.

The Postal Service requests the news media share the following tips and use the hashtag #preventdogbites when reporting on this critical issue.

·If a letter 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. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.

·Dog owners should keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

·The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well.

The Waynedale News Staff
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