Phoenix ranks among top cities for dog attacks against postal workers

Phoenix is on the list at number 9 with 32 attacks last year, up from 28 in 2021.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 3:34 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 6:10 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Postal Service has released its dog attack city rankings for 2022, and Phoenix is on the list at number 9 with 32 attacks last year, up from 28 in 2021.

Joe Willers has been working the same route for the past seven years, but he’s been a mail carrier for 28 years. “I believe most carriers one time in their career have had an attack by a dog,” he said.

He is speaking from experience, but he’s also talking about the more than 5,300 postal service employees attacked by dogs while delivering the mail last year. “I have been chased down by dogs, I have been bitten by dogs,” Willers said.

You’ve probably seen the signs outside homes that serve as a warning for an aggressive dog, but Willers says those are not the ones he has had problems with. “It’s those good dogs, the dogs that have had a bad day. They’re the ones that come after us,” Willers explained.

It often happens in rural areas or homes with fenced-off front yards, but it’s often enough that mail carriers get training on what to do. “Notate that to management, management sends them a letter saying their dogs have been out, please keep them put away,” he said.

Letter carriers are trained to:

  • Not startle a dog
  • Keep their eyes on any dog
  • Never assume a dog will not bite
  • Make some noise or rattle a fence to alert a dog if entering a yard
  • Never attempt to pet or feed a dog
  • Place their foot against an outward swinging door to prevent a dog from escaping

In the worst of cases, he admits he’s had to use pepper spray. Something he says other mail carriers carry as well. “Several, I have sprayed dogs. You don’t want to but you got to do what you’ve got to do,” he said.

When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep dogs,

  • Inside the house or behind a fence
  • Away from the door or in another room
  • On a leash

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