An empty mailbox is never a fun discovery, especially if you’re expecting something important to arrive. But the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been publicly struggling recently amid financial challenges that were only exacerbated by the pandemic. As a result, Americans all across the country have been complaining about delivery delays over the past year. But don’t automatically assume this is the reason you’re not getting your mail. The Postal Service can also suspend its services in certain areas when it deems it necessary—which is exactly what’s now happening to people in one part of the country. Read on to find out where the USPS has just suspended mail delivery.
READ THIS NEXT: USPS Is Suspending Services in These Places, Effective Immediately.
Despite ongoing delivery delays, the Postal Service is still technically responsible by law to deliver mail six days a week—an obligation that was saved by the Postal Service Reform Act, which President Joe Biden signed in April 2022 to help the agency work is way back to solid ground. But there are exceptions to this requirement, like federal holidays, emergency issues, and other “unusual circumstances,” according to the USPS.
It is normal for certain addresses to not have any mail on a particular day. At the same time, the USPS indicates that traffic, staffing fluctuations, severe weather, natural disaster, and changes in carrier route are all circumstances that could affect service even when there is mail to deliver. “The Postal Service curtails delivery only after careful consideration, and only as a last resort,” the agency states. “We appreciate your understanding of our responsibility for the safety of our employees, as well as of our customers.”
Now, residents in one area are learning exactly what other “unusual circumstances” can lead to delivery suspension.
An Ohio neighborhood is no longer receiving deliveries from the USPS, The Vindicator reported on Sept. 20. According to the local newspaper, the Postal Service has suspended service to residents on Auburndale Avenue in Youngstown after a letter carrier was attacked by a loose dog on the street.
“The safety of our delivery employees and the aim to provide great customer service are both paramount to who we are as an organization,” USPS spokesperson Naddia Dhalai told The Vindicator. According to Dhalai, local USPS management is currently working with the dog’s owner and delivery will only resume “when it is safe for the letter carrier.”
On its official website, the USPS does list “dog on the premises” as a possible circumstance that may impact mail delivery. “Delivery service may be suspended when there is an immediate threat (including, but not limited to, threats due to loose animals) to the delivery employee, mail security, or postal property,” the agency explains, adding that loose dogs can indeed affect service for an entire neighborhood.
“Aggressive and unrestrained animals are a serious issue,” Dhalai told NBC-affiliate WFMJ in Youngstown. “One bite or fall can cause a serious injury; they are painful yet they can be prevented.”
The Postal Service requests that owners “confine their dogs during delivery hours” and says it will notify customers promptly if their service has been suspended because this requirement is not being followed. “Most people know the approximate time their letter carrier arrives every day and having their dog secured as the carrier approaches their property for delivery will minimize any dog carrier interactions,” Dhalai told The Vindicator.
The dog attack in Youngstown isn’t a one-off instance. The Postal Service has previously suspended service in other parts of the U.S. this year following attacks on carriers. Back in May, the agency told residents in a Greenfield, Indiana, neighborhood would not reinstate delivery service “until residents install curbside mailboxes” after loose dogs had left one carrier so injured she needed 50 stitches. Then in July, the USPS stopped delivering mail to one street in a Southside neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa, while a worker was still recovering from being chased and bitten by a dog the month prior.
But these are just a few examples of a much larger problem. More than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the U.S. last year alone, the Postal Service revealed in a report released June 2. USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault says that dogs have a “natural instinct to protect their family and home,” which might prompt even the friendliest of animals to attack carriers. In fact, the agency said many of the attacks reported by carriers in 2021 came from dogs whose owners regularly stated that their dog “won’t bite.”
“The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees as seriously as we take our commitment to delivering America’s mail,” Linda DeCarlo, the agency’s senior director of Occupational Safety and Health, said in a statement. “Please deliver for us by being responsible pet owners and make sure your dogs are secured when our carrier comes to your mailbox.”