mail carriers

The troubled relationship between mail carriers and dogs are kind of a cliché — but also a deadly hazard. Two months ago, to launch National Dog Bite Awareness Week, the United States Postal Service released a report that documented more than 5,400 dog attacks on postal employees across the country in 2021. That’s down from 2019, when there were 5,803 documented attacks.

The issue of dogs and postal workers reached crisis proportions in Florida last week when a pack of dogs killed 61 year old rural mail carrier Pamela Jane Rock. Rock was found

screaming for help as she lay on the ground, trying to fend off the dogs, according to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Several neighbors rushed to help Ms. Rock by trying to pull the dogs off her while another neighbor fired a rifle into the ground, trying to scare them, the sheriff’s office said.

When deputies arrived, the sheriff’s office said, they found the dogs behind a fence and Ms. Rock bleeding. They applied three tourniquets to stem her blood loss and took her to a hospital. As they drove her, Ms. Rock went into cardiac arrest, and she died from her injuries the next day, Col. Joseph Wells, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

According to the Postal Service, Florida had 201 attacks in 2021, up from 199 the previous year.   Florida has the 8th highest number of dog attacks, following California, Texas,Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York and Illinois.  This year’s them of National Dog Bite Awareness Week was “The USPS Delivers for America — Deliver for Us by Restraining Your Dog.”

Rock’s death came just two months after the Postal Service’s National Dog Bite Awareness Week public service campaign.

I wrote about this same issue in 2017, describing how the Postal Service has a number of recommendations for preventing dog bites — mostly involving recommendations that residents separate aggressive dogs from the front door with the postal worker is delivering a package.  The Postal Service also asks package recipient to indicate whether they own an animal and that information is provided to the postal worker. Finally, postal workers are given the right to avoid aggressive dogs or areas where they roam:

The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a Post Office until the letter carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s Post Office.

Other Mail Carrier Hazards

But rain, sleet, snow and dogs are not the only hazards that postal workers face.  Hazards include chemical and biological agents, traffic incidents (e.g. here and here), heat, and shootings.

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