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June 11, 2020 - 2:43pm

Next week is 'U.S. Postal Service National Dog Bite Awareness Week'

From the USPS -- Buffalo:

The number of U.S. Postal Service employees attacked by dogs nationwide fell to 5,803 in 2019 — more than 200 fewer than in 2018 and more than 400 fewer since 2017. For Postal Service officials and mail carriers, one bite is one too many.

The Postal Service has new technology tools to help reduce dog attacks and is championing a local program as well.   

In the Western NY District (ZIP Codes 140 through 149), there were 55 dog attacks in 2019; one more than the year before. (See full chart below of where dog attacks occurred.)

The theme for the 2020 U.S. Postal Service National Dog Bite Awareness Week, June 14-20, is “Be Alert: Prevent the Bite.” The campaign addresses aggressive dog behaviors that pose serious threats to the more than 80,000 Postal Service employees delivering mail and how communities they serve can play an integral part in their safety.

“During this difficult time, our letter carriers are delivering mail and they need to do it safely,” said Western NY District Manager Gary Vaccarella. “We are using technology and a dog awareness program to assist our customers and carriers in reducing bites.”

According to Vaccarella, technology supports carrier safety in two ways: Mobile Delivery Devices, handheld scanners used by carriers to confirm customer delivery, now include a feature to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address; and Informed Delivery, which alerts customers to mail and packages coming to their homes, allows customers to plan for the carrier’s arrival by securing dogs safely.

In addition, Post Offices around Western NY have started using a Dog Paw program where stickers are placed on mailboxes to alert carriers that a dog is nearby. Some Post Offices piloted the program last year; a district-wide rollout is occurring for many others.

Karen Mazurkiewicz, spokeswoman for USPS in Western New York, told The Batavian this afternoon that since she's been in her job, going back to 2016, records show no postal employees in Genesee County were bitten by a dog. That's why no community in this county is on the list below.

"They've must have done a good job getting the word out," Mazurkiewicz said. "And we train our workers to use best practices to help keep them safe."

For example, if a mail carrier approaches a residence with a barking dog, and the resident opens the main door to receive mail, the carrier is encourage to place a foot against the bottom corner where the screen door opens, in case it's unlatched and the dog comes bounding out. Once the dog is safely under control, they can hand off the mail.

Mail carriers alert others who may be substituting for them on their route about aggressive dogs by filling out bright orange "dog warning" cards that are kept on file in the delivery truck.

The Postal Service offers the following safety tips for dog owners:

  • When 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. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate glass windows to attack visitors.
  • Parents should remind children and other family members not to take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.
  • 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 location or other facility until the 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 location.

Here are the Post Offices in Western NY that had a dog bite in 2019 (Post Offices listed alphabetically):

ALBION

  1

BOSTON

  1

BUFFALO

  15

CORNING

  1

DUNKIRK

  1

ELMIRA

  4

ENDICOTT

  1

FAIRPORT

  1

FREDONIA

  1

GRAND ISLAND

  2

HORNELL

  1

ITHACA

  1

JAMESTOWN

  2

LAKEVIEW

  1

LOCKPORT

  1

NIAGARA FALLS

  2

ORCHARD PARK

  3

PENFIELD

  1

PENN YAN

  1

ROCHESTER

  14

No Western NY District Post Offices were in the national top 20 offices for dog bite attacks, as noted today in a national press release.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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