SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. Postal Service is working to raise awareness of the dangers mail carriers are faced with, specifically when delivering mail to homes with dogs.
Last year there were 22 mail carriers in Utah who were attacked by dogs, and this year we're on pace to beat that total.
Mail carriers deliver their charges in any weather: rain or snow. But many will tell you the hardest part of their job is avoiding aggressive dogs.
“Serious incidents? Probably four or five for myself personally," Mail Carrier Thomas Lamont said.
Lamont has been delivering mail in Utah neighborhoods for the last 22 years. In that time, he’s been bit twice and has had countless colleagues attacked.
“We've had carriers end up in the hospital,” he said. “We’ve had dog bites that were life-threatening.”
Each year, the Post Service spends a week trying to educate the public about the prevalence of dog attacks on mail carriers.
“This year--we’re not even halfway through the year--there have been 12,” said Margaret Putman, a Postal Service spokeswoman. “So it is something we are very concerned with for the safety of our carriers and the safety of the public.”
Nationwide, more than 5,000 mail carriers were attacked by dogs last year. Most of the time it’s by first time offenders.
“Uh, we’re really sorry, he’s never bit anyone,” Lamont said of the common response. “They don’t realize they never see their dogs as aggressive. They’re always friendly and happy and they don’t see their dogs when they are not around, so they don’t realize how aggressive their dogs can be.”
The issue is preventable of course, and Postal Service officials want residents to make sure their dogs are restrained when the mail carrier comes. If a mail carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog, the owner may be asked to pick up their mail at the post office.
“We do give a dog owner a warning, a couple of warnings, but if the dog continues to be loose or not secure when the carrier is delivering, at some point we do curtail that delivery and make other arrangements for them to get their mail," Putman said.
Lamont considers himself an animal lover and has dogs of his own, but he said delivering the mail has changed the way he feels about dogs.
“Every time you walk by, they go crazy like they want to bite you,” he said. “It’s changed my viewpoint a little bit on dogs, absolutely.”