Have you ever been out and about and saw a pawprint sticker on a mailbox? Although it seems like it, this is not a new fad or some very particular prankster slapping animal prints onto private property. It’s actually part of a very recent movement aimed at ensuring the safety of mail carriers across the country.
According to News Nation, 5,300 mail carriers were bitten by a dog last year alone. In response, the USPS is pushing for a new system called the Paw Program, which creates a color-coding system so all delivery people can know ahead of time where to expect a – potentially very protective – canine companion.
The USPS is introducing the Paw Program to protect its workers
“Aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to Postal Service employees throughout the nation and in our own backyard,” warns the USPS on its official site. Last year’s dog bite statistics eclipsed 2020’s 4,933 and 2021’s 4,200 bites. Some carriers may know what to expect at each location – but others may not know the layout of a neighborhood.
So, to quickly inform anyone on duty each day, the Paw Program uses color-coded pawprint stickers stuck to the mailbox of any relevant house. An orange pawprint tells the carrier that there is a dog at that specific house; a yellow pawprint sticker indicates that there is a dog in the house adjacent to it.
All involved parties have to be aware of dog safety
Because of the very real and realized risk of dog bites, mail carriers have had to become aware of safety measures they can take if confronted by animals. “Recently, I was delivering to a customer’s mailbox and was nearly bitten by their large aggressive dog,” shared Manassas, Virginia mail carrier Swain Lowe.
“Despite the dog being behind a fence, it still managed to jump over and charge me. Thankfully, I was aware of it and remembered not to run but to turn and use my satchel as a shield to prevent what could have been a terrible bite.”
There are other safety measures that pet owners can take, in addition to maintaining their Paw Program sticker. The USPS asks that if a homeowner has children and a dog, they do not allow the kids to take mail directly from the carrier, as a dog could see the carrier as a threat to their tiny human family members. Additionally, if a homeowner is familiar with the timing of their mailman’s route, they might secure their pet ahead of time.
The Paw Program has been popping up in more and more cities across the U.S. since its introduction in 2020. Homeowners can expect to see some documents informing them about the new sticker going onto their mailbox.