If You See A Paw Sticker Has Been Put On Your Mailbox, Do Not Remove It

By Dave Basner

July 12, 2023

Photo: Getty Images, USPS

You never know what you might find in the mail each day, sometimes it's bad news like bills and sometimes it's good news in the form of checks or a letter from a lost friend. However, the mail would never get to you if not for the postal workers who bring it. It's not an easy job, and not just because they deliver in rain, snow, sleet and heat, they also face other dangers, like animals. In fact, 5,300 mail carriers were bitten by dogs last year.

To help protect their employees, the USPS has implemented a new campaign called The Paw Program. It began in 2020 in certain cities and continues to grow across the country. It uses a color-coded system to help carriers unfamiliar with the routes they are on know which houses have dogs. Homes with dogs might find an orange paw sticker on their mailbox, but even if you don't have a pet, you still might end up with a sticker. Houses near ones with a dog could get a yellow paw sticker on their mailbox. Most homeowners are aware of what it is because when a postal worker places a sticker on a mailbox, they also put a card inside the mailbox, explaining the significance of the sticker.

The stickers should not be removed, even if you think you have a good, calm dog. In a statement, USPS Occupational Safety and Health Senior Director Linda DeCarlo explained, "When our mail carriers are bitten, it is usually a 'good dog' that had not previously behaved in a menacing way. In 2022, too many aggressive dogs impacted the lives of our employees while delivering the mail. Please help us reduce that number by being a responsible pet owner who secures their dog as we deliver the mail.

Photo: USPS

So where in the U.S. do the most bites occur? Well in 2022, Houston saw 57 bite incidents, LA had 48, Dallas had 44, there were 43 in Cleveland, 39 in San Diego, 36 in Chicago and 34 in St. Louis. As for the states that saw the most bites, California tops that list with 675 bites last year, followed by Texas (404), New York (321), Pennsylvania (313) and Ohio (311).

With so many bites happening, mail carriers have been trained on what to do if they get attacked. They're instructed to stand their ground and protect themselves with an object, like their mailbag, which they can put between their body and the dog's mouth. Some also carry dog repellent that they can use if needed.

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