Postal Carriers Hope to Bite Into Dog Attacks


There was poetic justice, of sorts, on Sunday when more than 100 Orange County mail carriers marched to highlight their fear of dog bites, then ended their rally with a hot dog barbecue.

Mailmen and women from throughout the county gathered in Garden Grove Park for a two-mile dog walk and rally to urge responsible pet ownership. Between chants of “No Loose Dogs,” battle-scarred letter carriers who had been chased, bitten and traumatized by seemingly lovable pets shared their war stories with empathetic listeners.

“Our objective is to help the community appreciate that we need their assistance,” said event organizer and Garden Grove Postmaster Alyce Alford, who has been chased but never bitten. “Dogs can’t treat the carriers like we’re ham hocks.”


Costa Mesa’s postmaster, Joe Diaz, said that during his decade as a mail carrier he was chased and forced to climb atop parked cars to escape the fangs of territorial dogs. Diaz also had his own pet, Chaser, run after the neighborhood mailman--an episode that put a hold on his residential delivery.

“We’re not against dogs; we have dogs, too,” Diaz said. “Dogs are protecting their property, but they have to be kept confined during delivery hours.”

Last year, nearly 3,000 carriers were bitten nationwide, 150 of them in Orange County. While not all bites are severe, injuries have resulted in permanent disabilities and even death from secondary infections, said Terri Bouffiou of the U.S. Postal Service.

But mail carriers were quick to point out Sunday that even a minor dog bite can result in trauma. Many mentioned the horrifying, stomach-turning feeling they get when they hear little nails tapping on the concrete, and others said they have never gotten over the fear of facing off with a hungry German Shepherd.

Thomas Yeomans , a Garden Grove mailman for more than a dozen years, said an encounter with a 60-pound Rottweiler puppy two years ago left him with bites on the nose and lip. Yeomans said his physical injury was less severe than the trauma he suffered.

“Do I still think about it? About two days out of five or four out of six,” he said. “Sometimes I hear a dry leaf scurry by and it sounds like a dog’s toe-nails and I turn around with my heart in my throat expecting an attack.”


Orange County Animal Control officer Lt. Marie Hulett, who brought the agency’s spokesdog, Captain, to the march, said carriers often call her office when they are confronted with loose pets.

“Dogs are territorial,” Hulett said. “They see the letter carrier as a threat and they want to do their job and protect their family.”

Postmaster Alford recommended that owners restrain their pets between mail delivery hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., lock all frontyard and backyard gates, and make sure screen doors are shut and locked.

Paul Marshall, armed with a Super Soaker instead of his issue Mace, said he had a run-in about two years ago but came away without any lasting scars.

“It’s more the little ones,” Marshall has learned. “They run up and snap at you and run away. It’s just one of the hazards of the job. Everybody tells you their dog doesn’t bite. We tell them your dog doesn’t bite, but my attorney does.”

In 1994, insurance companies paid an average of $12,000 per claim for dog-bite injuries, according to postal service figures.