CLEVELAND, Ohio -- It's said neither rain nor snow, heat or gloom of night keeps the postal carrier from completing his route. But, the mailman mottos have nothing about dogs.
According to the Post Office, 2,613 USPS workers suffered dog bites last year. So far this year, there have been 1,005 attacks. The Post Office notes an increase in incidents when the weather warms up, because more dogs are outside.
"You have to keep one eye on the mail, and you have to keep an eye out for any loose dogs,” Postal carrier Ray Smith noted. Smith has been delivering mail in Cleveland's Kinsman neighborhood for the past 18 years. He said he has never been bitten, but he has had some close calls. “I have been chased by a pit bull, a rottweiler, and Doberman pinscher," Smith said. He said a fellow postal carrier was nearly mauled by a pit bull. “Just locked on him and would not let go. So, it has been many incidents like that.”
Smith says postal carriers use their mailbag as a first line of defense, positioning it between themselves and the dog if it should attack. He said that also gives them time to pull out the pepper spray. "And, we want to be sure to get the eyes and the nose area to stop the dogs in its tracks," Smith said.
But, dog attacks can be easily avoidable if pet owners keep their dogs inside when the mail is being delivered. “Since we’re there every day around the same time, all they have to do is keep the dogs preferably in the house behind lock doors. If they are going to be outside, we want them well away from the mailboxes," Smith said.
If at any time, the postal carrier feels threatened, he or she can stop delivering mail to that home. And, if attacked, the postal carrier can sue the dog owner for any damages.