Looking forward to a package, postcard or letter coming to your front door? A visit from your letter carrier might serve as a bright spot in your day, but it could be a moment of consternation for your ever-vigilant dog.
Postal Service letter carriers go the extra mile under all sorts of conditions: heat, cold, rain, sleet, snow. And dogs, of course.
Despite a general downward trend in cases over the past few years, thousands of carriers are still bitten by dogs every year.
USPS finds that 5,400 Postal Service USPS employees, in fact, sustained injuries from dogs while on the job last year. That’s about 200 fewer incidents than what USPS reported for 2020.
USPS is releasing this data as part of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, which runs from June 5 to June 11, these incidents happen across the country, but a few cities consistently rank as having more dog attacks happening to USPS workers than anywhere else.
Cleveland, Ohio earned the dubious distinction of having more dog attacks than any other city in the U.S.
Houston, Texas — after a three-year streak of being the contender on this list — fell to second place with 54 cases.
Kansas City, Missouri ranked third with 48 cases (Kansas City, Kansas, I’ll note, doesn’t get any mention on this list).
The bad blood between postal workers and pets is the stuff of comic strips, but no laughing matter for the employees on this list or who had a close call with an aggressive dog.
USPS workers, thankfully, often know if they're coming up to a house where a dog has a bad rap.
The handheld scanners used by letter carriers have a dog alert feature that reminds them of a possible dog hazard. When a carrier feels unsafe, they have the discretion to halt household mail delivery, and require residents to pick up their mail at a post office.
The numbers, thankfully, are trending in the right direction. USPS reported at 6,244 employees were bitten by dogs in 2017.
If a dog attacks, USPS tells carriers to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.
“I was bit by a dog on my leg recently and my mail satchel helped shield me,” Francisco Juarez, a letter carrier who delivers in Houston, said in a statement as part of the USPS press release.
“The sound of a dog barking while on my route puts me on high alert and I try to be ready to protect myself," Juarez added.
USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault said customers should keep their dogs inside the house, or behind a fence on a leash when letter carriers are making their rounds.
“While it’s a dog’s natural instinct to protect their family and home, we ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered,” Theriault said.
USPS not required to grant religious exemptions on Sundays
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Gerald Groff, a former rural mail carrier in Pennsylvania. He accused USPS of violating federal anti-discrimination law by failing to accommodate his religious practices when supervisors didn’t grant him a blanket exemption from working on Sundays.
The court found the exemption would have put an undue burden on US-PS and employees who would have to cover his shifts. USPS doesn’t deliver mail on Sundays … but it does deliver packages. The two appeals court judges who sided with USPS noted that the "success of Amazon Sunday delivery was critical to USPS," and that other employees were doing "more than their share of burdensome work.”
The ruling upheld a 2021 decision by a federal judge dismissing the lawsuit.
Groff resigned in January 2019. In his resignation letter, he stated that he decided to leave his job because he was unable to find an “accommodating employment atmosphere.
Judge Thomas Hardiman, the lone dissenter, said USPS had not fully proven its case that Groff's blanket exemption on Sundays put an undue burden on the agency's operations.
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed Gerald Groff from the completion of his appointed rounds. But his sincerely held religious belief precluded him from working on Sundays. Because USPS has not yet shown that it could not accommodate Groff’s Sabbatarian religious practice without its business suffering undue hardship, I respectfully dissent," Hardiman said.