Keeping postal workers safe

May 15, 2008 3:34:07 PM PDT
It is a scenario that draws laughter on TV and in movies, but in reality, a dog attacking a postal carrier is a very serious concern. And this time of year, bites increase. In Mount Vernon, carriers got tips of fighting off Fido.

Eyewitness News reporter Marcus Solis has more.

For Tyronne Vieira, it's an occupational hazard.

"It's very nerve-wracking," he said. "Because sometimes you don't know what's going to happen."

Coming face-to-snout with angry dogs. And he's not alone. Last year, more than 3,000 letter carriers nationwide were bitten, an average of 11 a day. Some postal workers have even been killed in dog attacks.

In Mount Vernon, the wounds are still fresh in Glen Toro's arm. A German shepard sank his teeth in just last month. It was the second time he's been bitten.

"When you see teeth coming at you, you just gotta do what you got to do," he said. "So when I saw that dog coming, I knew what was about to happen."

On Thursday, postal workers got some safety tips from an expert about how to best deal with dogs they encounter on their routes.

The Postal Service wants to get the word out to the community in general, but especially to its employees, that this is the time of year when the number of dog bites goes way up.

"Because the children usually are home from school, and what happens then is the normal routine is out of control," USPS safety speciallist Eileen Flynn-N said. "The door is open, they don't put the latch on, they might let the dog out."

"I've always made noise upon entering someone's fence," postal worker Gary Burton said. "Rattle the fence, or saying or holler. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."

The Postal Service reminds homeowners that it is their responsibility to control their dogs. Letter carriers have successfully sued for damages. And if all else fails, the Postal Service can stop delivering to a problem house.