NEW YORK — U.S. Postal Service rural carrier J.P. Salamanca remembers it like it happened yesterday.
“I turned around and the dog is right behind me,” he recounted. “I jumped back and it bites me in the leg.”
Salamanca, who's from Wading River, N.Y., was attacked by a shepherd collie mix while on his route. All that remains is that memory and a brutal scar.
“Ever since then I’m always looking around, even to the point now that I will hear the leaves rustle and it’s a squirrel running by and I will just get kind of jumpy,” he said.
Salamanca is just one of thousands of postal workers who get attacked by dogs each year.
In an effort to reduce potential attacks, the Postal Service held an event at Brooklyn Bridge Park Thursday to raise awareness for what their mail carriers have to face on a daily basis.
“Being a responsible pet owner should happen more than one week every year - this is an every day commitment,” USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo said.
New York State ranks third in dog related incidents involving postal employees with 339 attacks reported in 2018. New York City alone saw an uptick of 10 percent in attacks.
The data has prompted the Postal Service to implement technology where workers can receive an alert if a home has a dog as well as provide on-site training for workers
According to safety specialist Bryan Colletti, the key is to stay calm and not run.
“You give yourself the best possible chance by standing your ground, getting as big as you can and getting as loud as you can and hopefully you can stop that dog in his tracks,” he said.
Mail carrier Willie Stubbs continues to report to the job after a series of dog-related incidents. He is urging dog owners to be vigilant.
“You know out of this uniform I am fine, but the thing is, mailman and dogs they just don’t get along and people need to know,” Stubbs said.