California leads nation in dog attacks on mail carriers; L.A. fourth among cities

Mail carriers load their trucks at the U.S. Postal Service on Sherman Way in Van Nuys.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

California led the nation in dog attacks on mail carriers in 2021, with Los Angeles ranking fourth among cities, the U.S. Postal Service said.

Last year, 656 dog bites on mail carriers were recorded in the state, nearly 100 more than in the state of Texas, which ranked second, according to the postal service. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan rounded out the top five.

Forty-four of those bites were reported in Los Angeles, which placed the city fourth behind Cleveland (58), Houston (54) and Kansas City (48), according to the agency.

In total, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2021.


“From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to postal employees and the public,” the postal service said in a press release.

The coronavirus has been spreading rapidly across California, setting up an anxious summer that could include the return of mask mandates.

”...[We] ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered,” said Leeann Theriault, the USPS’ employee safety and health awareness manager. “When a carrier comes to the residence, keep the dog inside the house and away from the door — or behind a fence on a leash — to avoid an attack.”

According to the post office, many of the dog attacks occurred after the owners had told the carrier that the animal was friendly and would not bite.

Carriers are trained to “stand their ground” if attacked and to put something, including their delivery bag, between them and the dog and to use dog repellent if necessary.

“Even though postal officials ask customers to control their dogs, unfortunately dog bites still happen, which may result in injuries to our carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners,” the postal service said.