CHARLOTTE, N.C. — According to U.S. Postal Service, more than 5,300 mail workers were attacked by dogs while delivering mail last year.
North Carolina ranked 10th in the nation for the number of dog bites. In 2021, there were 126, and that number jumped to 146 in 2022.
USPS is bringing these statistics to the forefront as part of National Dog Bite Awareness Week.
Dana Gregory has been a mail worker for 26 years, in part due to the job stability and salary.
“I love working by myself, and I love being outside,” Gregory said.
On his route, he usually exchanges pleasantries with neighbors in Charlotte. However, he avoids interactions with pets.
“For most of us we love animals. I love dogs myself. We are just here to provide the service of delivering the mail,” Gregory said.
The precautions are a way to prevent injuries. According to USPS, Charlotte ranked No. 15 in the country for dog attacks with 21 in 2022.
“The person who came before me may have a had a nice interaction with the pet, but for whatever reason the pet may react differently to my presence,” Gregory said.
A dog has not bitten him on the job, but he’s put into practice some of the training USPS has offered. For example, he uses his satchel as a barrier between him and the animal or spray dog repellent to keep the animal from coming closer.
He said customers can help prevent any negative encounters.
“Keep your pet leashed. If he’s not leashed, keep him contained within a fence and keep him away from the area we have to approach for delivery and if they do that, then it will be a great experience for us,” Gregory said.
After learning the rules Wednesday, neighbor Lynn Collins doesn’t plan on approaching Gregory with her leashed dog moving forward.
“I certainly don’t want to do that. I don’t want anything to come to harm to my mail man,” Collins said.
A dog alert feature on the carrier’s scanners may also advise them about a possible dog hazard. When a carrier feels unsafe, mail service could be halted for the dog owner and the neighborhood. In these cases, mail must be picked up at the USPS.