See a Paw Print Sticker on a Mailbox in Louisiana? Why You Shouldn’t Touch it
Your mailbox serves as a hub for incoming and outgoing mail. While many choose to add a dash of personality to their mailboxes, spotting a paw print sticker you didn't add shouldn't be a reason for alarm or removal. Rather, it's part of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) initiative aimed at keeping mail carriers safe from dog attacks.
In 2022 alone, more than 5,300 USPS workers faced dog attacks, according to a USPS press release. Cities like Houston, Los Angeles, and Dallas recorded the highest numbers of such incidents. Leeann Theriault, USPS's safety and health awareness manager, stresses the importance of restraining dogs to ensure the safe delivery of mail. Even if you believe your dog poses no threat, the USPS clarifies that any dog can bite, including those you'd consider non-aggressive.
The Postal Service advises pet owners to take precautions such as keeping dogs indoors or leashed during mail delivery hours. Mail carriers are equipped with scanners and dog warning cards to help identify possible hazards. In 2020, the USPS introduced the PAWS Program, which employs stickers as an added precaution. These stickers are color-coded: an orange sticker with a black paw indicates a dog lives at that home, while a yellow sticker signifies a dog lives at the adjacent property.
Initially launched in Pennsylvania, the PAWS Program has expanded to other states like Minnesota, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Recently, even communities in Lakewood, Ohio, and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, joined in, with a reported 117,000 households in 20 North Carolina cities currently participating.
While there is no official literature on the program existing in Louisiana, I have personally seen these stickers (or similar ones) on mailboxes in Lafayette and throughout the Acadiana region, wondering what they meant. In the event that the program is activated in the area, this is good information to know.
These paw stickers act as cautionary signs for mail carriers. Removing them can disrupt mail service not just for the homeowner but for the entire neighborhood if a dog is deemed a threat. So, for the sake of community well-being, it's advised to leave the stickers in place.
Kimberly Tilley, acting postmaster for Winston-Salem, added that dog attacks can leave a lasting impact on mail carriers. However, for those who oppose the stickers, opting out is an option, but doing so requires contacting your local post office.
In summary, these paw print stickers are more than mere decorations; they play a critical role in ensuring the safety of mail carriers and should be left untouched if you see them around Louisiana.