Four years ago, U.S. Postal Service carrier Jeffrey Delgado was delivering a certified letter in Miami Springs. The 61-year-old had been delivering mail for almost 30 years. It was just another day on the job.
That changed when the woman was signing off on the letter. In an instant, her dog pushed the door open and bit Delgado’s thigh.
Last year, Miami had 21 dog attacks against mail carriers, and the city was ranked in the Top 20 across the country for attacks. Jacksonville also made the list, with 16 incidents, and Florida was in the Top 10 of states with the most attacks.
Miami ranked 15 in 2022 for most dog attacks against mail carriers in the U.S. It was ranked 22 in 2021 and 17 in 2020.
Across the country, more than 5,300 attacks were recorded in 2022.
Stories from the postal carriers
Delgado heard the dog when he knocked on the door and, being cautious, asked the woman to put it away. However, her door didn’t latch properly and the pet got out.
“He was quiet,” Delgado said. The medium-sized dog didn’t bark before attacking, so it came as a surprise. As it was happening, he wondered, “What the heck bit me?”
He went to the hospital for tetanus shots, but thankfully no stitches.
Since the attack, Delgado is more vigilant of dogs when he delivers mail. He rattles his keys in his little finger to alert that he’s coming.
Other stories are more severe.
Last August, 61-year-old carrier Pamela Jane Rock was attacked by five dogs when her car broke down in a neighborhood in Interlachen, about 65 miles south of Jacksonville.
Rock died in the hospital the next day. She suffered severe injuries to her limbs, and one of her arms was amputated in an attempt to save her.
The owner had secured the bottom of his yard fence with bricks, rocks and logs to prevent the dogs from getting out, but they were able to get past the blockage. They were euthanized after the attack.
The dogs had previously shown aggression and the owner had taken various steps to contain them, including two attempts to surrender them to Putnam County Animal Control. He made one of the requests 10 days before the attack against Rock.
Campaign to raise awareness
The service’s annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week June 4-10 has drawn attention to the issue and spreads information on what dog owners can do to prevent attacks.
This year’s theme: “Even good dogs have bad days,” and the service is using #DogBiteAwareness on social media to spread the word.
“When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a ‘good dog’ that had not previously behaved in a menacing way,” said USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo in a statement. “In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail. Please help us reduce that number by being a responsible pet owner who secures their dog as we deliver the mail.”
What pet owners can do at home
You trust your dog and she trusts you, but animal instinct could kick in at any moment. Even if he’s friendly, there are steps you can take to prevent him from striking.
Secure your dog before a mail carrier approaches your home. This can be inside the house, behind a fence, shut in another room or kept on a leash away from the door or yard.
The Postal Service reminds pet owners to not let kids get the door for carriers because dogs could perceive this as a threat to the child and act to protect.
Another point of advice is to track your mail and packages using Informed Delivery to see when it’ll arrive. That way you’ll know at what time you should secure your dog.
Carriers are trained to keep safe
Letter carriers are trained to keep themselves safe to avoid attacks. Some of the advice includes making noise if entering a yard, never attempting to feed or pet a dog, and never placing a foot at the bottom of the door to prevent a dog from escaping.
In the case of an attack, they are taught how to protect their body and to use dog repellent, if necessary.
FedEx told the Miami Herald that their “couriers and service providers are encouraged to operate as safely as possible when making deliveries, which includes remaining aware of their surroundings and using discretion to avoid potentially harmful situations.”
To help keep their delivery carriers safe, the Amazon Delivery App gives drivers safety tips for each location they visit, including a dog being present. The app also has live support to report incidents.
Here’s the full list of cities and states with most dog-carrier attacks in 2022:
Los Angeles: 48
San Diego: 39
St. Louis: 34
Kansas City: 33
San Antonio: 32
Baton Rouge: 20
San Francisco: 19
Fort Worth: 17
Long Beach: 16
Oklahoma City: 16
El Paso: 16
New York: 321
North Carolina: 146