Three local postal carriers have been bitten by dogs since the start of the U.S. Postal Service's fiscal year in October, a statistic that has led Lawrence's postmaster to urge pet owners to be cautious about leaving their dogs in the yard.
Postmaster Bill Reynolds said one carrier was bitten in October and two carriers were bitten in November. In addition, a carrier was bitten the last week of September, just before the beginning of the fiscal year.
One carrier received medical treatment for a four-inch cut on the hand, he said.
Reynolds said pet owners need to be particularly cautious about their dogs during the summer months, when children are out of school. Many dogs become extremely protective when children are out playing in the yard with them, Reynolds said.
Postal carriers who encounter dogs that may pose a threat to them are not required to deliver mail to that home, Reynolds noted.
"We do not require our carriers to jeopardize their safety," Reynolds said.
If a dog does pose a problem for a carrier and the owner of the pet is identified, the post office will send the owner a notice asking he or she to restrain the dog. If the carrier can't identify the owner of a dog, city animal control officers will be called, Reynolds said.
If an owner does not pay attention to the request to keep a threatening dog secured, Reynolds said mail delivery can be withheld from that customer or even the entire block.
"We don't want to have to do that," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said the postal service "does take action to recover funds" when a carrier has been bitten. For example, the postal service will sue to recover medical bills, and if a uniform has been damaged, the pet owner will be asked to pay for repairs to the uniform.
Reynolds said the postal service also might ask for the pet owner to pay for lost time if the carrier could not return to work because of his or her injuries.