Mail carriers combat rain, snow, sleet and hail to make their appointed rounds — but aggressive dogs can also be a regular threat to employees dropping packages door-to-door.
A new report from the United States Postal Service, released ahead of National Dog Bite Awareness Week which runs through June 10, revealed that thousands of mail carriers across the U.S. were attacked by their age-old nemesis in 2022.
In total, more than 5,300 postal service employees were attacked by dogs while delivering mail last year, according to the report, a slight decrease from 2021 when 5,400 mail carriers were attacked. And according to Leeann Theriault, postal service manager of employee safety and health awareness, any dog can become a threat to a mail carrier regardless of whether they have been aggressive before.
“When letter carriers deliver mail in our communities, dogs that are not secured or leashed can become a nemesis and unpredictable and attack,” Theriault said in a news release. “Help us deliver your mail safely by keeping your dog secure and out of the way before your carrier arrives.”
What states had the most dog bites?
According to the report, California had the most recorded dog bites in 2022 with 675. Texas was second with 404 reports of dog attacks on mail carriers, while New York was third with 321.
Pennsylvania was fourth with 313, followed closely by Ohio with 311.
Houston, Los Angeles and Dallas ranked as the top three highest cities for dog attacks on mail carriers in 2022, according to the postal service's report.
How you can help keep postal workers safe
The U.S. Postal Service provided a number of tips for how dog owners can keep mail carriers safe while they're delivering mail.
Most people have a general idea of when a mail carrier arrives, and so they're asked to make sure any dogs are secured inside the house or behind a fence before a postal worker approaches the property.
Informed Delivery, a free USPS service, allows customers to digitally preview incoming mail and packages to anticipate when their carrier will arrive.
The U.S. Postal Service said in a media release that its mail carriers are trained both in how to be aware of dogs that may be present as they deliver letters and also in how to minimize the likelihood that they'll be attacked. If a dog attacks, carriers are also trained to protect themselves by placing something between them and the dog, such as a mail satchel, and, if necessary, to use dog repellent.
If carriers feel unsafe, they could halt service for a single home or an entire neighborhood, meaning mail would have to be picked up at a nearby post office.
Eric Lagatta covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricLagatta.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USPS reveals states with most dog attacks on mail carriers in 2022