More Than 6,200 Postal Workers Attacked By Dogs in 2017

State Farm reported it paid more than $132 million in 2017 as a result of 3,618 dog-related injury claims. The average cost paid per claim was $36,573.

The U.S. Postal Service this month reported that 6,244 postal employees were attacked by dogs nationwide last year — more than 500 fewer than 2016, but still an average of 17 attacks for each day of the year. USPS highlighted technology that alerts mail carriers of potential attacks while releasing its annual list of cities where the most dog attacks were recorded; three of the top 10 were the largest cities in Texas.

"We're encouraged by the decrease in dog attacks," said U.S. Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo in San Diego, where postal employees suffered 46 attacks — the fifth-ranked city in 2017. "The totals are still too high, but we're confident that with continuing education and dog bite prevention training, along with advancing technology, we can keep more people safe and keep attacks trending downward."

DeCarlo mentioned the Package Pickup app on usps.com, which asks customers to indicate if there are dogs at their addresses when they schedule package pickups. This information is provided to carriers on their delivery scanners, which send alerts if an unleashed dog is reported in a delivery area. "The scanners that our carriers use to confirm a customer's delivery include a feature for them to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address," she said. "This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off."

National Dog Bite Prevention Week was April 8-14. The Postal Service, joined by the American Humane, American Veterinary Medical Association, Insurance Information Institute, and State Farm Insurance want to use the week to drive home the message that dog bites are a national issue and education can resolve the problem.

A video on dog bite prevention tips is available on the Postal Service's YouTube channel. DeCarlo also listed these prevention tips:

  • 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. Dog owners should keep the family pet secured.
  • Parents should remind their children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, because the dog may view the person handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.

USPS considers the safety of its employees a top priority. If a 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 carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If a 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.

American Humane estimates more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, with 800,000 seeking medical attention as a result. "Two-thirds of the injuries occurring in children four years or younger are to the head or neck region, and studies have also shown that the greatest percentage of dog-bite fatalities occurred among children and unsupervised newborns left with dogs — something that should never occur," said Mark Stubis, chief communications officer for American Humane. "To help, American Humane offers a free online booklet, 'Pet Meets Baby,' with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a pet — or a new pet into a home with a child available for families with children."

State Farm reported it paid more than $132 million in 2017 as a result of 3,618 dog-related injury claims. The average cost paid per claim was $36,573. "State Farm is also one of the few insurance companies that does not exclude homeowner or renter insurance coverage because of the breed of dog owned," said Heather Paul, State Farm public affairs specialist. "The company reinforces that responsible pet ownership and educating children about how to safely interact with dogs is key to reducing dog bites."

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