Sample Postmaster Columns

Using these columns will help you spread the word about the Postal Service’s efforts to protect letter carriers and children in the community.

Retype these columns on your letterhead and take or send them to your local newspapers. It’s a good idea to localize the articles with experiences from your own Post Office or community. Contact local newspaper editors to propose running the column weekly for 3 weeks. You should also post copies of these columns in your lobby and employee break room.

Although the material is designed specifically for use during the spring, you also can use it to build community awareness throughout the summer months.

Postmaster Column No. 1
“Children Suffer Most Dog Bites,” by [Name], Postmaster [City]

For every letter carrier bitten, 900 children needlessly suffer the pain and trauma of dog bites. Whatever the rea­sons, dog bites are a serious problem for the entire com­munity, not just our letter carriers. Three thousand one hundred and eighty four carriers suffered dog bites last year. That’s an average of 11 dog attacks every delivery day, and that figure does not include the number of threats. These numbers pale in comparison with the more than 4.7 million people — mostly children and the elderly – who suffer injuries from dog attacks each year.

In [City] last year, dogs bit [Number] letter carriers and interfered with a significant number of mail deliveries [or you can estimate a number if possible]. Fortunately, most dog bites can be prevented through responsible pet ownership.

[If you did have dog bites last year, use the previous paragraph and insert a paragraph or two here giving a few details, such as the seriousness of the incidents and the amount of lost time.]

[If you had no dog bites or no cases of dogs interfer­ing with mail delivery last year, omit the previous paragraph.]

If a letter carrier needs to deliver a certified letter or a package to you, put your dog into a separate room before opening your front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.

Summit Hill, PA, Letter Carrier Mary Sloboda opened a screen door and put a package that was too large to fit into the mailbox inside a customer’s house. She shut the door, but a 105-pound mixed-breed dog ran into it. The door opened, and the dog attacked Sloboda outside biting her right elbow, arm, head and buttocks.

“I was walking away from the house, and it just nailed me,” Sloboda said. “It ripped at my bag and then it bit my arm when I reached for my spray.”

[Feel free to substitute this example with a local one if it is appropriate.]

Nationally, the number of carriers bitten by dogs has declined over the years. This is because of greater cooper­ation from dog owners, stricter leash laws and stepped-up efforts to educate letter carriers and the public about deal­ing with the problem.

Our letter carriers are vigilant and dedicated, but we may be forced to stop mail delivery at an address if a letter carrier is threatened by a vicious dog. In some instances, Postal Service™ employees have sued and collected damages for dog bite injuries. We can’t control people’s dogs; only dog owners can do that.

While some attribute attacks on letter carriers to dogs’ inbred aversion to uniforms, experts say the psychology actually runs much deeper Every day that a letter carrier comes into a dog’s territory, the dog barks and the letter carrier leaves. Day after day the dog sees this action repeated. After a week or two, the dog appears to feel invincible against intruders. Once the dog gets loose, there’s a good chance it will attack.

Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. We also recommend par­ents ask their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers. A dog may see handing mail to a child as a threat­ening gesture.

These simple reminders and helpful tips can reduce the hazard of dog bite attacks. Help us to help you this spring and summer.

This is the first in a series of three columns by [City] Postmaster [Name] addressing the problem of dog attacks, both in the Postal Service and in the community. Next week: “Why Do Some Dogs Bite?”

# # # 

Postmaster Column No. 2
“Why Do Some Dogs Bite?” by [Name], Postmaster [City]

Would your dog bite? The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that more than 4.7 million dog bites are reported to local authorities each year. Countless more go unreported.

Dog bites can range from a relatively painless nip to a fatal mauling. dog bite victims account for up to 5 percent of all hospital emergency room visits. Children are most often the victims. Dog attacks are the most commonly reported childhood public health problem in the United States.

You may feel confident that your dog won’t add to these statistics, and it is probably true that your trusty companion will never seriously harm anyone. However, if your dog does attack or bite someone, you could be liable for the victim’s pain, suffering and medical expenses. Potential victims include your letter and rural carrier and neighbor­hood children. There are several ways you can avoid liabil­ity. Reducing the likelihood your dog will ever bite someone helps protect you, your canine companion and everyone else in the community.

Why Some Dogs Bite

Although dogs may bite for a variety of reasons, spaying or neutering has been shown to reduce aggressiveness. Bite statistics show that dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are up to three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident.

Lack of socialization, improper training, excitement and fear can all contribute to a dog attack. Even a nip on the leg is unacceptable behavior for a family dog.

Three Suggestions to Help Take the Bite Out of Your Dog

  • Teach your dog appropriate behavior. Don’t play aggressive games with your dog such as wrestling, tug of war or enticing your dog on another person. It’s essential that your dog recognize members of your family as dominant figures not to be challenged.
  • Be a responsible pet owner. For everyone’s safety, don’t allow your dog to roam. Make your pet a mem­ber of your family. Dogs that spend too much time tethered to a dog house or in the back yard have a much greater chance of developing aggressive behavioral problems.
  • Stay on the safe side. Help your dog become accus­tomed to a variety of situations. If you don’t know how your dog will react to a new situation, be cau­tious. If you think your dog could panic in a crowd, leave him or her at home. If your dog may overreact to visitors or delivery people, keep him or her in another room.

This is the second in a series of three columns by [City] Postmaster [Name] addressing the problem of dog attacks, both in the Postal Service and in the com­munity. Next week: “Protecting the Community.”

Postmaster Column No. 3
“Protecting the Community,” by [Name], Postmaster [City]

Last year, dog bites resulted in 3,184 OSHA recordable injuries to letter carriers nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 2 percent of the American population is bitten by a dog each year, and most of the victims are children.

Clearly, parents must never leave a defenseless infant with a dog and must make sure that older children know the potential danger of dog bites. It is also important to know that studies have shown that dogs are three times more likely to be involved in a biting incident if they have not been spayed or neutered.

To learn more about the importance of neutering or spaying your pets, visit the American Partnership for Pets (APP) at: The APP is an unprecedented coalition of more than 25 leading and influential animal health and welfare organizations, com­munity animal care and control services and veterinarians.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has found that the breed of animal most commonly involved in dog attacks can change from year to year and from one part of the country to another, depending on the popularity of the breed. According to the HSUS, while some breeds are more likely to bite, other factors like whether the animal has been spayed or neutered, and whether the animal has been properly socialized, safely confined, properly super­vised and humanely trained play great roles in a dog’s tendency to bite. Dog owners can prevent serious injuries to others by realizing their important role in dog bite prevention.

This concludes a series of three columns by [City] Post­master [Name] addressing the problem of dog attacks, both in the Postal Service and in the community.