The TRIBUNE-Area postal carriers have seen an increase in the number of encounters with dogs recently and they’re asking dog owners for help.

“We’re very concerned about the increase in the number of close calls involving dogs as carriers attempt to deliver the routes safely,” said Cozad Postmaster Tess Kaiser. “We’re asking pet owners to please restrain their dogs for the safety of letters carriers and the communities of Dawson County.”

Kaiser says the request for restraining dogs includes those who live in rural areas.

“We take the safety of our employees very seriously,” said Kaiser. “We will not wait until a carrier is bitten before taking preventative action. A dog that runs loose not only affects the delivery of the dog owner’s mail, but often the delivery of their neighbors’ mail as well.”

National Dog Bite Prevention Week is April 9-15th. Nationwide, 6,755 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2016, including 40 in Nebraska. Many of the bites resulted in medical attention beyond first-aid, and several resulted in postal carriers being unable to return to their normal duties for a period of time, including a carrier who was attacked when a customer opened the door to his house and a pit bull charged past him biting the carrier on her thigh, as well as cuts and bruises on her leg, arm, and elbow. So far in 2017 there have already been 12 dog attacks to Nebraska postal carriers.

Kaiser shares the following tips on this important issue.

• If a postal carrier delivers a certified letter or a package to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.
• Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from postal carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.
• The Postal Service places the safety of its employees as a top priority. If a postal carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner’s neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.