HOUSTON, May 12, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Postal Service announced that 6,549 employees were attacked by dogs last year as it released its annual top dog attack city rankings. It also shared information on new safety initiatives it is putting in place to help protect its employees.
"Dogs are protective in nature and may view our letter carriers handing mail to their owner as a threat," said USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo at a news conference in Houston, where postal employees suffered 77 attacks, more than any other city. Fifty-one cities make up the top 30 rankings (see chart below).
Enhancing Employee Safety
DeCarlo also announced two new safety measures to alert USPS Carriers of dogs on their delivery routes. The first goes into effect May 13 on usps.com'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."
DeCarlo was in Houston to kick-off National Dog Bite Prevention Week: Sun., May 15 - Sat., May 21. 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.
DeCarlo encourages the news media to 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.
2015 Dog Attack Rankings by City
Note: A total of 6,549 postal employees were attacked by dogs in calendar 2015. Fifty-one cities comprise the top 30 rankings as some cities reported the same number of attacks.
Media are encouraged to contact local USPS spokespersons at this link for conducting interviews and following letter carriers on their rounds. Related contacts: American Academy of Pediatrics, Thomas McPheron, firstname.lastname@example.org, 847-434-4315; American Veterinary Medical Assn., Sharon Granskog, email@example.com, 847-285-6619; Insurance Information Institute, Loretta Worters, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-346-5545; and, State Farm Insurance: Heather Paul, email@example.com, 309-826-7899.
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A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=40247