These days, finding your mailbox empty is more of an annoyance than cause for concern. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has been criticized for deliveries delays across the country, as officials blame major staffing shortages that have been exacerbated by budgetary setbacks and the COVID pandemic. For some people, however, mail may never arrive: The Postal Service can choose to stop delivering to certain places for a variety of different reasons—and one area is now finding this out the hard way. Read on to learn where the USPS has just suspended service.
READ THIS NEXT: USPS Just Announced This Major Delivery Change, Starting Aug. 1.
The Postal Service has previously suspended services for several reasons this year.
The USPS delivers to nearly everyone, but it can take service away if that drastic step is deemed necessary. Back in March, the postal agency halted international mail services to Russia amid the country's war on Ukraine, asking customers in the U.S. to "please refrain" from trying to send any mail addressed to Russia through the USPS system, as it would be returned.
Then in April and May, two separate neighborhoods in the U.S. had their delivery service suspended following mail carrier attacks. First, some residents in Santa Monica, California, received notice of a mail suspension due to "multiple carriers [having] been subjected to assaults and threats of assault" from one individual, according to the USPS. Then in May, residents of one Greenfield, Indiana, neighborhood were told the agency would not reinstate delivery service "until residents install curbside mailboxes," after loose dogs had left one carrier so injured she needed 50 stitches.
Now, safety concerns for postal employees in a different area have led to another suspension.
Another area has lost delivery service from the USPS.
Residents in a Southside neighborhood of Des Moines, Iowa, are no longer receiving deliveries from the USPS, local CBS-affiliate KCCI reported on July 18. According to the news outlet, the agency recently sent a letter to residents on East Kirkwood Avenue, notifying them their mail service had been suspended after a postal worker was attacked in late June by two dogs in the area.
On June 23, KCCI reported that a USPS mail carrier had been injured by a pit bull while delivering mail in the city. "A dog had gotten out of a fenced-in yard. Chased after him. He tried to get over a fence to get away from him and bit him up pretty good," Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department told the news outlet. The worker is reportedly still recovering at home from last month's attack.
The agency said it is working on a solution to safely deliver mail to the neighborhood.
According to KCCI, the suspension affects deliveries for about 26 homes in Des Moines—and not all those impacted are happy about the decision. "I understand the safety of the post office individuals is most important, but it also affects a large majority for only one household that had the issue," John Quast, a resident of the neighborhood, told the news outlet.
Residents currently have to go to their local post office to receive their mail. But USPS spokesperson Mark Inglett told KCCI that the agency is hoping to come up with a plan within the next two weeks on how to resume service to the neighborhood. "What we're looking to do is look for the best means of delivering that block. Most likely it will be a curbside delivery or a cluster box," Inglett explained.
Thousands of postal workers are attacked by dogs every year in the U.S.
The attack on the Des Moines mail carrier occurred during the same month that the Postal Service held a public service campaign for its annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week. Leading up to this week, the agency revealed that more than 5,400 postal employees in the U.S. were attacked by dogs in 2021 alone.
"Every year, thousands of postal employees are attacked by dogs as they deliver America's mail. And while it's a dog's natural instinct to protect their family and home, we ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered," USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault said in a June 2 statement. "When a carrier comes to the residence, keep the dog inside the house and away from the door—or behind a fence on a leash—to avoid an attack."
The Postal Service also released a top 25 city ranking of where dog attacks happened most often last year. The top five cities were Cleveland, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles, California; and Louisville, Kentucky. Meanwhile no Iowa city—not even Des Moines—made the list, but only one incident is needed for the USPS to take action. "We take these things very seriously," Inglett told KCCI in June, following the dog attack on the Des Moines carrier.
Back in 2018, USPS spokesperson Kristy Anderson told the Des Moines Register that every postal carrier attack incident is reviewed separately based on the severity of the dog bite and how mail is delivered to that particular neighborhood. "Safety of our carriers is super important," she said. "We will temporarily hold mail until we can get the situation remedied just so we don't put our carriers in danger."