UPDATE 11/20/13 @ 4:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two U.S. Postal Service letter carriers have been bitten in the last few weeks, and the postmaster is urging people to pay close attention to their pets.
"Safety is our number one priority," Postmaster Lucas Peek said. "If we see a carrier is in danger, we have no choice but to stop mail delivery to that house or neighborhood until we can get that problem solved."
One of the bites required the letter carrier to get a tetanus shot. Both dog bite victims are recovering.
"It causes unneeded injuries, unnecessary injuries and time off work," Peek said. "This time of year, we definitely don't want to see that happen."
Postal carriers say it's often small children who run to the door and let animals loose.
"It's our biggest threat," letter carrier Grant Randan said. "We like animals, but often times we're a threat because we're on an animal's perceived territory."
Robert Tyree was just attacked a few weeks ago.
"I had to defend myself and think quickly. I ended up falling on my elbow and mail went everywhere," Tyree said. "Now, every time I come off a porch, I make sure I look forward or backward because dogs can come rushing out of anywhere."
Postal workers will be delivering warning letters to residents: if an animal poses a threat, the mail will not be delivered."
"Our goal is customer service," Peek said. "It's nothing permanent, but we want our customers to be aware of the safety risk to our carriers and take appropriate action."
In a press release sent out Wednesday, the USPS says the carriers received painful injuries and one had to have a tetanus shot.
"Too often our carriers, as well as children and other public workers such as gas and electric meter readers, encounter unrestrained dogs while they are on the job," says Huntington Postmaster Lucas Peek. "We would like to remind customers who are dog owners to help us protect our employees and the public by making sure their pets are properly restrained at all times."
The USPS says they run into issues when customers open their doors to get the mail and may not realize how fast a dog can squeeze through the small opening and bite the carrier.
They are now issuing a warning to residents. "If our letter carriers deem your dog to be a threat, you'll be asked to pick up your mail at the Post Office until we determine it's safe to deliver," Peek continued.
The USPS suggests that when letter carriers come to the door, pet owners should place dogs in a separate room and close the door, as many canines have been known to jump through screen and glass doors to attack a carrier.
According to the CDC, nearly 5,900 letter carriers were attacked last year.
"Beyond the needless pain and suffering, medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service millions of dollars each year. Please help us keep our employees safe," says Peek.