We have all grown up with the notion that dogs hate the mailman, just as we’ve grown up with the notion that they love to pee on fire hydrants. It’s a cliché as old as time: the mailman comes, the dog barks and chases the mailman away. We see it in children’s books and we see it in comic book strips. As with all things that we become familiar with and grow up with, we pay no mind to it and store it in the back of our minds. Like the fact that in every story (mostly the Disney movies) involving a family who owns a dog, the dog goes to get the newspaper from the lawn every single morning without fail. We pay no attention to it, we don’t ask why; it is just the way it is. It’s what we grew up knowing and have no interest in asking why or even if there is any truth behind it. Fact is that there may be some truth to this iconic rivalry between dog and mailman.
Think about it, in a previous blog I spoke about how dogs need personal space. Well personal space goes hand in hand with protecting their property. They see their property – whether it be a toy, food or in this case your home – being intruded by somebody not familiar to them. They then feel threatened, which causes a chain reaction that leads to them ultimately lashing out and attacking an innocent. The US Postal service stated that in 2013, 5,581 postal service employees were attacked by dogs across the United States (this includes Massachusetts). They also released a list of top cities in which dog bites to postal workers were reported. Houston was at the top of the list with 63 dog attacks, followed by Los Angeles with 61 attacks. Even though Massachusetts did not make the top of the list, which is not a bad thing, it is an issue prevalent to all.
Obedience training is one of the most important steps to take in order to prevent these attacks from occurring. It will teach dogs proper behavior when around people and help owners control their dogs in any situation. As I stated before, dogs can be very protective of anything they view to be their property. This may cause them to interpret a postal service worker, or anyone approaching your home to render you service, as a threat and an intruder. For this reason, it is important that you take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet. When a letter carrier is approaching your home, make it a point to keep your dog inside and away from the door. If you have children, make sure that they know to do the same. Remember, if an employee of the of the postal service feels threatened by a situation in your home, he may refuse to deliver your mail and require you to pick up your mail at your local post office.
With the rise in Postal Service employees being attacked by dogs, it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Postal Service is fighting back. It has pioneered a dog-bite awareness program aimed at getting owners to keep their pets from attacking and intimidating mail carriers. This awareness program has helped to reduce dog bites to roughly 3,000 per year. The Postal Service also encouraging its employees to sue if they do become victims of dog bites. As stated by postal service manager Linda DeCarlo, “Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem.” Do your part to try and prevent dog bite attacks, and if you are a victim, seek legal help.