HARRISBURG, Pa. - Dog attacks against mail carriers have decreased dramatically since 2016. New numbers from the United States Postal Service show a 40 percent decrease in dog attacks against workers in Central Pennsylvania.
"Always be on lookout," says USPS mail carrier Tyler Jackson. "Always carry dog mace with us."
Dog attacks are something USPS workers are always on alert for.
"Typically what I look for is if theres a looking out for dog signs, beware for dogs," said Jackson. "If that happens I'll usually rattle a gate before I go through a yard."
Since 2016, dog attacks on postal employees is down by 40 percent in Central Pennsylvania with 68 attacks in 2017. Harrisburg recorded 5 of them. USPS credits the decrease on close attention by mail carriers and dog owners. There are also several measures in place to keep carriers safe from these attacks, like carrying mace and a satchel.
"I haven't had to use the mace," said Jackson. "I know a couple people that have had to use mace. I know of one person severely attack uptown out of our office a couple years ago."
If ever feeling unsafe, a mail carrier can use their discretion to continue working.
"If there's a dog out, we don't necessarily have to deliver to that house," said Jackson. "If there's a dog running the block or the street, the carrier can make a decision to not even deliver to the block and just bring the mail back. "
For mail carriers like Jackson, who call themselves 'floaters' because they're on a different route everyday, they rely on dog warning cards. They list the specific breed, where they're located and any problems mail carriers have had with the dog.
"There's dog warning cards for each route that have any issues with dogs. Ones that are already bad, ones that bite through the door slots," said Jackson. "That's why typically if there's a dog inside the door we may not deliver the mail because it could bite out hands or something."
USPS is asking all dog owners to help keep mail carriers safe by being aware of where your dog is while mail carriers are out and to restrain your dog when needed.