Over 5,800 Letter Carriers were Attacked by Dogs in 2020

The image of the mail carrier being attacked by a dog is an iconic one. Unfortunately, it is rooted in real events, as shown by the recent announcement that more than 5,800 USPS employees were attacked by dogs in 2020. To an extent, this was caused by unusual circumstances. After all, the COVID-19 crisis meant that more parcels were sent out, which in turn, meant that there were more opportunities for mail carriers to come into contact with aggressive animals. However, there can be no doubt about the fact that this kind of thing happens on a regular basis even in regular times.

Why Does This Kind of Thing Happen?

There isn’t a single reason why dogs attack mail carriers. After all, they are complicated animals, meaning that they can act in a wide range of ways based on a wide range of circumstances. However, there are some potential explanations that come up more than others, meaning that they are worth expounding upon. For example, dogs can act in an aggressive manner because they are afraid. Similarly, dogs can act in an aggressive manner because they are concerned by what they see as an intrusion into their territory. In both cases, the aggression is a way for the animal to make their position clear. Essentially, fights are extremely dangerous in nature. Even if a participant wins, they could be injured in the process, which can have a horrendous impact on their continuing chances of survival. This is the reason that predators prefer to target the old, the sick, and the young, all of which are less capable of putting up a struggle than healthy adults. As such, a dog acting in an aggressive manner is saying that they are prepared to fight, thus influencing the other side’s decision-making process. In any case, this kind of thing can happen with not just mail carriers but also other strangers.

Unfortunately, there are also a number of things about mail carriers that make dogs more inclined to act in an aggressive manner. One example would be how a mail carrier can cause a dog to become accustomed to treat all mail carriers in an aggressive manner for no fault on their part. Generally speaking, mail carriers are strangers who will come again and again but never become acquainted with the dog in any real way. Furthermore, it is normal for dogs to bark as a way of signaling that a stranger has entered their territory. Combined, this means that a dog might assume that barking is an effective way to get a mail carrier to go away, with the result that they will start barking at all mail carriers to get them to go away. Another example would be various innocuous actions on the part of mail carriers encouraging dogs to attack. For instance, if a mail carrier interacts with a member of the dog’s family, they might be interpreted as a potential threat to that member of the dog’s family. Something that could convince the dog to go on the attack in spite of their fear in an unfamiliar situation. Likewise, if a mail carrier turns their back before leaving the scene, that could embolden an already agitated dog to go on the attack.

What Should You Do in Such Situations?

Sadly, there isn’t a single breed or even a small number of breeds that are responsible for the aforementioned attacks on mail carriers. Small dogs can go on the attack. Similarly, big dogs can also go on the attack. Likewise, there isn’t a particular place where people need to watch out for this kind of thing because it is happening everywhere. As such, interested individuals might want to look into various ways to preventing their dog from going on the attack against mail carriers. Something that can help them as much as it can help the USPS and other mail services.

To name an example of something that can help, interested individuals shouldn’t take the mail from mail carriers in the presence of a dog. We are humans, meaning that we see nothing wrong with such situations. Meanwhile, even though dogs are remarkably good at interpreting humans and human actions when compared with the rest of the animal kingdom, they are by no means a match for actual humans in this regard. As such, dogs can mistake a mail carrier handing the mail to one of their family members as a hostile gesture. Something that can convince them to go on the attack against said individual for the sake of protecting their loved one.

On a similar note, interested individuals might want to make sure that their dog isn’t loose. The USPS has an understandable desire to protect the wellbeing of its mail carriers, which is why it has the policy of asking people to pick up their mail at the mail office if they believe that a loose dog is a potential threat. Moreover, if an aggressive dog is roaming around an entire neighborhood, that could cause similar disruptions to mail service for the entire neighborhood. As such, interested individuals should make sure to keep their dogs leashed. For that matter, they might want to go as far as to put their dog in a separate closed room before opening their front door for the mail carrier. After all, there have been cases of dogs actually going through screen doors as well as plate-glass windows to attack mail carriers, meaning that it might be best to eliminate all possible temptation.

Besides this, there is also the option of signing up for informed delivery. Essentially, this means that interested individuals will be informed when a parcel is going to be delivered to them, which is good because that means that they will have plenty of time in which to take proper precautions. In contrast, if interested individuals get surprised by a parcel, they might not have enough time to take the proper precautions even if they want to. In this as in other things, more time means better preparations, which in turn, mean a better chance for better outcomes.

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