Dearborn, Mich., letter carrier Tameka Toliver recalls being pinned on a porch by a dog that bit her above her knee. "It happened so fast, even with all my training, I barely had time to react," Toliver said last year. "I'm still scared when I get close to that house because I remember the attack so vividly. It takes a long time to get over the fear."
When a dog attacks a letter carrier, the dog owner could be held liable for all medical expenses, repayment of lost work hours, replacement of the uniform and other costs, which can run into thousands of dollars. The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority and dedicates a week each April to Dog Bite Awareness.
Here are four simple tips to prevent dog bite injuries that should be enforced year-round:
Door Delivery: If a 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. Some dogs burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors.
Electronic Fencing: Although the electronic fence may keep your dog from wandering, it does not protect your Postal Service carrier, who must enter your property to deliver the mail. Even homes with curbside mailboxes may have oversized packages or signature-needed items that require the carrier to approach a doorstep and cross the boundaries of the electronic fence.
Dog in Yard: Make sure your dog is properly restrained on a leash away from where your mail carrier is delivering the mail. Mail delivery service can be interrupted at an address or neighborhood the carrier deems unsafe because of an unrestrained dog. When service is interrupted at an address or neighborhood, all parties involved will have to pick mail up at their local post office.
Tracking: Dog owners who have access to postal notification features such as Informed Delivery (informeddelivery.usps.com) for letter mail and package tracking are urged to use this as a way to gauge when the carrier is on his or her way and to ensure their dog is properly restrained.