fbpx

Dog Attacks on USPS Mail Carriers Could Increase Under COVID-19 ‘Shelter-at-Home’ Order

ANIMAL WATCH-Lacey Cassidy, a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier, is recovering physically from severe injuries to her arm and hand caused by an attack by three Pit Bulls while she was delivering mail in Hilliard, Florida, in December 2019, but, the fear will remain long after the wounds heal. 

Lacey, an avid dog-lover, told MSN, "I have never pleaded with an animal in my life. All I could do was say please, don't, please, I was just terrified." 

While on her regular route, Lacey Cassidy went to the front door of a home where a delivery required a signature. As she approached, a Pit Bull charged through the pet door. "He latched onto my arm here, and one after the other the other two [Pit Bulls] came out," she said. 

She sustained multiple puncture wounds to her arm and a deep gash on her finger. "[The dogs] bit to kill," her husband told First Coast News.   "They were gnawing on her arm." 

Lacey Cassidy was just one of the 5,714 Postal Service employees victimized by attacking dogs last year

USPS MAIL CARRIERS DELIVER DURING COVID-19 CRISIS 

Governor Gavin Newsom's recent executive order for California’s nearly 40-million residents to "shelter-at-home" followed similar guidance by President Trump and the CDC for all Americans, in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

However, the strict isolation requirements exempted those who work in law-enforcement, certain other public-service jobs and "critical infrastructure industries." The latter includes the United States Postal Service. In fact, President Trump reminded those who continue to maintain these essential services, "You have a special responsibility to maintain your normal work schedule." 

So, while many residents are "Safer at Home," (LA Mayor Eric Garcetti's twist on the slogan), Postal workers will observe "social distancing" and surface- and hand-sanitizing as they sort and process mail 24-7 in plants across the country. 

And, USPS mail carriers will continue to deliver letters and parcels as usual to maintain vital connections between individuals, families, doctors and patients, and businesses throughout the nation, and also assure that medications and other online or phone purchases arrive at their destinations. 

CHANGES IN ROUTINE CAN UPSET PETS -- PLEASE KEEP DOGS INSIDE! 

Schedules have changed abruptly upon issuance of the coronavirus COVID-19 self -- or family --isolation orders, with little opportunity to make plans and adjust routine activities. 

Schools have turned to on-line study, routines are dismantled to accommodate children who are suddenly home during the day, and many adults have been told not to report to their regular work location. 

In the midst of these sudden major readjustments, it is easy to overlook the fact that pets in the family are also disturbed and confused by the sudden change in familiar habits. 

With the increased stress of an uncertain future, it is also easy for their humans to forget to lock gates and assure that everyone closes front and back doors to keep pets secure. 

KEEP YOUR DOG SAFELY IN A CLOSED ROOM DURING MAIL DELIVERY 

When the mail delivery is made, children (who are usually not home at that time), often run out to greet the carrier -- with the family dog bolting out with them (or with an adult.) However, the dog may not identify the mail delivery as a positive experience. 

A protective canine may perceive the stranger in a blue uniform as an unwelcome intrusion into his/her territory, and the reach to hand mail to a child or other family member may be interpreted as an aggressive gesture. The result can be an unexpected attack that leaves the Postal employee seriously injured. Even minor attacks hurt, result in time off work and are costly. 

It is an excellent precaution to have several strong leashes kept in strategic locations in your home and garage, so you can restrain your dog's actions (or reactions) quickly, if necessary. 

Last year, many injuries reported by letter carriers were inflicted by dogs whose owners regularly used the phrase, “My dog won’t bite,” warns the Postal Times.  

And, if the local post office determines it is not safe for other Postal workers to make deliveries in the area because of your dog, delivery can be discontinued for the entire block. 

MORE HOME DELIVERIES -- MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR DOG BITES 

Statista.com reported on March 2, 2020, that the number of Amazon Prime members in the United States is projected to reach almost 143 million users in 2022 -- up from 124 million in 2019. 

In addition to rapidly growing parcel delivery, the U.S. Postal Service reports that it adds 4,071 addresses to its delivery network daily and processes and delivers 187.8 million pieces of First-Class Mail per day. 

Informed Delivery®, is a free USPS notification feature that allows consumers to receive digital images of their incoming mail and manage package delivery. Users can see the images in a digest e-mailed to them or through an online dashboard.  

On March 14, USPS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) distributed an emergency alert about the coronavirus to Informed Delivery’s 23.5 million subscribers 

ATTACK ON DETROIT MAIL CARRIER CAPTURED ON VIDEO 

It is important to see the reality of a dog attack to understand the pain and devastation to the victim's life (if he/she survives.)  

This video recorded a 6-minute attack by an owned Pit Bull on a 52-year-old Detroit mail carrier on February 22, 2019, as you hear him screaming in pain. (Warning:  graphic content.) 

A heroic effort was made by O'Neil Colley, who was driving by and stopped to help. The camera in Colley's car recorded him using every implement he could find -- including a rubber trash can and a metal steering wheel lock device -- to finally stop the brutal mauling of the carrier, with the help of neighbors. 

When the dog finally released the victim, it charged a neighbor, who escaped back into his home. 

DON'T LET YOUR DOG BECOME PART OF A TRAGIC STATISTIC 

USPS reminds us that dog bites are a serious public health issue and 4.5 million Americans are attacked each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Small children, the elderly, and U.S. Postal Service carriers — in that order — are the most frequent victims

We need to get through sheltering at home and the COVID-19 restrictions with the same concern for the safety of strangers as for ourselves. Keep your dog -- who is a family member and your responsibility -- safe, secure and under your control when your mail is being delivered -- and always.


(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.