USPS asks for help keeping carriers safe from dog attacks

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY (WPBN/WGTU) -- A lot of us have dogs and almost all of us get mail delivered.

The most recent numbers released by the United States Postal Service suggests dog attacks on their mail carriers are on the rise.

They are asking for your help to keep their employees safe.

Sabrina Todd, the Customer Communications Coordinator for USPS said the three most victimized groups by dogs are children, the elderly and mail carriers.

"We have to factor this in every day, so when we get to a route one of the first things we do is we are listening and we're trying to figure out where the dogs are," said Don Lindgren a USPS Mail Carrier.

Lindgren has been delivering mail across northern Michigan for 18 years and said he's had his fair share of dog encounters.

"I've had it where a dog had a hold of my satchel, ears back and his hair was raised up and shaking and everything else," said Lindgren. "And that's why we carry our satchels to keep us between it."

According to Todd, in 2014 5,676 carriers were attacked by dogs and in 2015 that number jumped to 6,549.

"Everybody says 'oh he won't bite, my dog won't bite, she won't bite,' and that may very well be true, but we've heard from carriers that say they have been delivering for years in a particular route or to a particular house and the dog never bit them, until the one time the dog did bite," said Todd.

And that one time was more than enough to make sure carriers have dog repellent on them at all times.

"It can happen so quick you don't have time to react and hope that you keep them from biting you or getting you or whatever, so what you are thinking about is survival."

If a carrier doesn't feel safe approaching a home they might not deliver to that house, or potentially to the entire neighborhood, for that day.

So the United States Postal Service has these tips for dog owners to make sure that doesn't happen.

- When a carrier is making a delivery, keep your dogs inside and away from the door.

- Report any stray dogs to animal control.

- Wait until the carrier is back in his truck before opening your door.

Each year, in May, USPS has a Dog Prevention Week, where dog trainers come in and teach carriers how to deal with potentially dangerous situations.

Any assault to a carrier, including dog assaults, could lead to imprisonment or fines.

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