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Postal Service Reports Increased Dog Attacks on Carriers in Hawai‘i

The U.S. Postal Service announced on Thursday that the number of dog attacks on letter carriers had increased in 2016. Above, USPS letter carrier Jamesa Euler delivers mail in Atlanta in 2013.
David Goldman
The U.S. Postal Service announced that the number of dog attacks on letter carriers has increased. Above, USPS letter carrier Jamesa Euler delivers mail in Atlanta in 2013.

It appears that man’s best friend is not always friendly with the neighborhood mail carriers. The Conversation spoke to the safety manager for the Hawai‘i district of the U.S. Postal Service to find out what you can do to keep your mail carrier safe.

Safety Manager Richard Anderson said the pandemic caused lots of families to stay home and order goods right to their door.

"With more people at home, their dogs are more or less not as confined as they usually are, and that has had a direct correlation to the dog bite incidents we've had," he said.

Nationally, the USPS saw dog bite cases soar last year to over 5,800 incidents. Locally, employees were the victims of 19 dog bite attacks compared to the previous year’s total of 12.

"We've seen a 58% increase here in Hawai‘i with the amount of accidents that we had last year as compared to this fiscal year," Anderson said. "We had a traumatic incident this year that did require a hospital stay and extensive reconstructive surgery for one of our carriers."

To help avoid attacks, Anderson asked customers to restrain their dogs or even leash them within the home when carriers arrive. Dogs are comfortable in their own territory so if the customer opens up the door, the dog is going to be right behind them.

When a carrier reaches across a threshold or fence to hand someone a package, the dog instinctively wants to protect their owner and may reach out and try to attack a carrier, he said.

This year's National Dog Bite Awareness Week runs from June 12 to 18. The theme is “Be Aware: Any Dog Can Bite.”

“Dogs are instinctive animals that may act aggressively to protect their turf,” Anderson said. “That why’s it’s so important for us to share this dog bite prevention information with our customers.”

This story aired on The Conversation on June 16, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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