For every letter carrier bitten, hundreds of children needlessly suffer the pain and trauma of dog attacks.

Whatever the reasons, dog attacks are a serious problem for the entire community, and not just the letter carriers, who were victimized by nearly 5,700 dog attacks last year.

That’s an average of 11 dog attacks every delivery day, and that figure does not include the number of threatening incidents that did not result in injury.

These numbers pale in comparison with the more than 4.5 million people — mostly children and the elderly — who suffer injuries from dog attacks each year.

In Conway last year, dogs bit two letter carriers and interfered with a significant number of mail deliveries.

Fortunately, most dog bites can be prevented through responsible pet ownership.

If a letter carrier needs to deliver a certified letter or a package to a citizen, the residents are asked to put the dog into a separate room before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.

Nationally, the number of carriers bitten by dogs has declined over the years. This is because of greater cooperation from dog owners, stricter leash laws, and stepped-up efforts to educate letter carriers and the public about dealing with the problem.

Our letter carriers are vigilant and dedicated, but they may be forced to stop mail delivery at an address if a letter carrier is threatened by a vicious dog.

In some instances, Postal Service employees have sued and collected damages for dog attack injuries.

While some attribute attacks on letter carriers to dogs’ inbred aversion to uniforms, experts say the psychology actually runs much deeper.

Every day that a letter carrier comes into a dog’s territory, the dog barks and the letter carrier leaves.

Day after day, the dog sees this action repeated. After a week or two, the dog appears to feel invincible against intruders.

Once the dog gets loose, there’s a good chance it will attack.

Postal carriers also advise residents to keep dogs safely secured and away from mailboxes. This protects both the dog and the letter carriers.

Dog safety is also important in rural areas.

Dogs recently have been jumping on carrier vehicles and attempting to grab the carriers arm as he/she reaches for the mailbox. Loose dogs may also be hit by cars.

Dog owners can prevent serious injuries to others by realizing their important role in dog bite prevention. 

(Dana Urbanski is Conway’s Postmaster.)