June 14 (UPI) -- Dogs attacked more than 5,800 postal employees in the past year, the U.S. Postal Service announced in its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week campaign.
The attacks ranged "from nips and bites to vicious attacks," according to the USPS statement, which added that "aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to postal employees and the general public."
The USPS campaign runs through Friday, with this year's theme being "Be Aware: Any Dog Can Bite," and the social media hashtag #dogbiteawareness.
"Raising awareness about dog bite prevention and how to protect our letter carriers as we deliver the mail is paramount," USPS Acting Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Jamie Seavello said in the statement.
"Dogs are instinctive animals that may act to protect their turf, and that's why it's important to inform the public about this campaign."
The USPS advised dog owners in the statement to keep dogs inside the house, behind a fence, away from the door or in another room, or on leash when letter carrier comes to their home, and remind children not to take mail directly from the letter carrier since the dog may view the letter carrier as a threat.
Letter carriers have been trained to make some noise or rattle a fence if entering a yard to alert the dog, and to never startle a dog, attempt to pet or feed a dog or assume a dog won't bite, USPS added.
They're also trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something in between them and the dog such as their mail satchel and to use dog repellant if necessary.
USPS also released 2020 rankings of dog attacks by city and dog bites by state in the statement.
The rankings showed Houston had the highest number of dog attacks in the Top 25 rankings by city at 73 attacks, followed by Chicago with 59 attacks and Los Angeles with 54 attacks.
State rankings showed the number of attacks in 2020 and in 2019. California had the most dog bites of the Top 10 dog bite states at 782, which was up from 777 in 2019.
Texas had the second-highest number at 402, down from 491 in 2019. Ohio had the third-highest number at 369, down from last year's 378. Also, among the Top 10 dog bite states were New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey and Virginia.