Is the Increase in Online Sales Contributing to An Increase in Dog Attacks on Mail Carriers?

The e-commerce boom has been held largely responsible for the slowdown in traditional retail outlets but we are now starting to see another consequence of the industry, one that probably should have been much easier to anticipate.

As traditional big box retailers continue to shut their doors left and right—letting go of thousands of employees in the process—one group of workers are working harder than ever: mail carriers. Highly competitive pricing models and faster shipping times are quickly making online shopping the most attractive option for cash-strapped Americans in one of the toughest economic markets in recent history. Because of this, then, Americans are placing more and more orders online, all the time.

But while this boom might seem like a good thing for postal workers—more deliveries means more certain job security—it has actually become quite a burden for some and an outright health risk for others.

New data shows that the number of dog attacks on postal workers has risen sharply in the years following the rise of the dot-com boom. Last year, there were 6,755 dog attacks recorded, which is 206 higher than the year before. It is, however, a smaller rate of increase from the year before. Still, any uptick in dog attacks is not a pleasant sign for package deliverers.

According to US Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo, in Los Angeles, “Even good dogs have bad days. Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets, and those who visit homes—like letter carriers—happy and healthy.”

If there is an upside to this, it might be that the severity of these attacks appear to be on the decline. Perhaps, then, the stats simply show that there are more dog attacks simply because there are more deliveries being made—its just a matter of opportunity increasing with frequency. Indeed, data from the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance notes that the average cost of insurance claims due to dog attacks actually fell ten percent last year, to $33,230. They theorize that improved training and tools have increased awareness and preventative measures to ensure that while you cannot always prevent or avoid a dog attack—particularly in this type of situation—there are many ways to minimize the resulting damage.

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