The battle has been waged since home mail delivery began in the 1800's, the letter carrier versus the dog. The US Postal Service is timing a new safety initiative, the PAWS Program, to coincide with their National Dog Bite Awareness Week, June 14 through the 20th. And this where the paw prints on mailboxes are coming into play.

The paw prints serve as a warning to letter carriers about the potential of a dog confrontation in the area. A yellow sticker indicates a dog resides at the next delivery address. An orange sticker means a dog resides at that address. Home owners will receive a note when a sticker is placed on their mailbox.

The paw prints are important especially when the carrier is delivering a package to the door. Even when a dog isn't present outside of a residence, they have been known to jump through screen doors and glass windows when the delivery person is perceived as a threat. In addition to keeping carriers safe, the program can help dog owners avoid liability in the event of an attack. Here are some tips the postal service offers to protect yourself and the letter carriers:

  • When a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate glass windows to attack visitors.
  • Parents should remind children and other family members not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet. The dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a family member as a threatening gesture.

USPS can ask you to pick up your deliveries at the Post Office if they perceive your dog as a threat. And a dog running loose in the neighborhood, can lead to everyone needing to pick up their own mail. You can read more on the postal service's PAWS program and see the states and cities ranked for most cases of dog bites in this news release. New York ranks 5th in the nation in number of dog bite cases.

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