Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler

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Dog Bite Prevention Week begins with rise in USPS dog bites

Each year, the U.S. Postal Service observes National Dog Bite Prevention Week in honor of its carriers, who are some of the most-bitten folks around. The official week runs April 9-15, so let's get ready by developing a good picture of how things stand.

First, it's good to know that postal carriers who are bitten by dogs or other domestic animals are eligible for workers' compensation to cover their medical expenses and any period of disability covered by the bite. At the same time, however, if state law supports it, they may also be eligible to file a separate personal injury claim against the dog owner.

Here in North Carolina, owners can be held liable for injuries their dogs cause if the dog has previously been declared dangerous.

Dog attacks on postal carriers is highest in decades due to online shopping

Dog bites on carriers had been on their way down until online shopping created a delivery boom at the USPS and other delivery organizations. Bites reached a peak in the 1980s at around 7,000 bites per year. Last year, however, there were 6,755 bites on postal carriers reported, which is an increase of three percent over the previous year. The USPS points out that seven-day-a-week package delivery is fueling the increase.

"It's always on your mind as a carrier, 'Is there a dog in the area and is it a threat?'" said one postal carrier interviewed by the Associated Press. Those 6,755 reported bites represent about 2 percent of all carriers -- and that doesn't include scary incidents with dogs that don't end up with bites, he added, such as trying to cajole a hostile animal or running away from one.

The most common places for postal carrier dog bites? LA, Houston and Cleveland

In 2016, 80 postal workers were bitten in LA. In second place was Houston, with 62, followed by Cleveland with 60. Even though Charlotte didn't top the list, though, anyone who makes deliveries to homes with dogs needs to be careful. Dog owners need to do more than simply believe their dogs won't bite -- they need to take active steps to prevent it.

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