A new ordinance was passed in the City of Vicksburg in Mississippi City that will obligate dog owners to keep their animals from interfering with the postal workers and meter readers in doing their jobs or getting access to a mailbox, utility meter, or utility pole.
The ordinance was passed on December 6, 2021, and will take effect in early 2022.
According to the City’s Mayor, George Flaggs, Jr., the problem has persisted for so long and has gotten worse in recent months, with postal workers and meter readers getting harassed and bitten by violent dogs.
Dog owners who are found to violate the new ordinance could face fines of up to $300 with a $27 impounding fee and possible misdemeanor charges.
Dog Attack Incidence
City Attorney Nancy Thomas got the request to implement the rule from the Public Works Department and Animal Control Officers.
Thomas said, “They’ve had several instances where animals appeared to be vicious or were tied around a utility pole, meter box, or mailbox, and the workers can’t get to where they need to get to and have to call animal control to come out and restrain the animals so they can do the work.”
Assistant Public Works Director Dane Lovell agreed and supported the ordinance saying, “It seems to be getting a little bit worse. We’ve had animal control come and hold the animals so we can do what we have to do and release them to the customer. It’s time-consuming.”
Prior to the ordinance, animal control officers are not allowed to impound a dog in such a situation.
According to the US Postal Service, more than 5,800 postal workers reported dog attacks in 2020. The top five states with the most dog attacks are California, Texas, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Dog Attack Prevention
USPS Acting Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager, Jaime Seavello, said in their campaign on June 2021 that “raising awareness about dog bite prevention and how to protect our letter carriers as we deliver the mail is paramount. Dogs are instinctive animals that may act to protect their turf.”
Pet owners are urged to keep their dogs inside the house, behind a fence, on a leash, or taken to another room when a postal worker comes to their homes. It s also recommended to remind children not to take mail directly from a letter carrier as the dog may view this as a threat.
Postal workers are also trained to respect a dog’s territory and be alert for any potential threats. They follow certain protocols, such as always keeping their eyes on the dog and not startling, petting, or feeding them. They also never assume that a dog would not bite and are allowed to use a dog repellant if necessary.