The week of May 18-24 was National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

Dog bites are a serious problem year-round, and not just for letter carriers. While more than 3,100 carriers were bitten last year, an average of 11 every delivery day, about 4.7 million – mostly children and elderly – are bitten annually.

While some attribute attacks on carriers to dogs’ inbred aversion to uniforms, the psychology runs much deeper. Every day a carrier comes into a dog’s territory, the dog barks and the carrier leaves. Over time, the animal feels invincible against intruders.

In Lewiston, four carriers were bitten last year. One dog burst through a screen door, knocked a carrier to the ground and attacked. The carrier suffered severe bites to his leg and back, and was unable to work for two weeks. Dogs also interfered with many mail deliveries in Lewiston.

Carriers are vigilant, but mail deliveries may be stopped if a carrier feels threatened by a dog. Most bites are preventable through responsible pet ownership; dogs must be kept secured. Once a dog gets loose, there’s a good chance it will attack. Nationally, the number of bitten carriers has declined, thanks to cooperation from dog owners, stricter leash laws, and education. Postal employees have also sued and collected damages for injuries.

While letter carriers were among the millions of victims of painful and traumatic dog bites last year, we hope these reminders and tips can reduce the hazard of dog attacks on everyone.

Mitch Curtis, Acting Postmaster

United States Postal Service, Lewiston

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