BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — This week, the United States Postal Service is raising awareness around postal workers who are bitten by dogs.

Sunday began USPS Dog Bite Awareness Week, according to a release by the postal service. In 2021, the agency said, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in the United States. The theme of this year’s awareness week is “The USPS delivers for America — deliver for us by restraining your dog,” the release said.

“From nips and bites to vicious attacks, aggressive dog behavior poses a serious threat to our postal employees who are delivering for America,” Alabama-Mississippi District Manager June Martindale said.

Data provided to CBS 42 by USPS shows that in 2021, Alabama was in the middle of the pack when it comes to the number of dog incidents with postal workers. Last year, the state was 24th in the number of dog incidents with 70, the data shows.

Birmingham accounted for 10 of those incidents, according to the data. Cities with a similar number of dog incidents include Canton, Fresno, Grand Rapids, Portland, and Tulsa.

Cleveland had the highest number of dog incidents in 2021, with 58. Close behind were Houston (54) Kansas City, Missouri (48), and Los Angeles (44).

USPS said that letter carriers are trained not to startle dogs, stay attentive, and never assume a dog won’t bite.

“Although we ask our customers’ cooperation in controlling their dogs, unfortunately, dog bites still happen,” said Martindale. “This may result in injuries to our carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners. Please heed best practices to help stop dog bites and protect your letter carrier.”

USPS also said that carriers have tools that can help avoid dog bites, including a “dog alert feature” on their handheld scanners and dog warning cards as reminders when they sort their mail for their routes.

If a carrier’s safety is in danger, though, postal officials said that the presence of an aggressive dog can lead to a halt in mail service.

“When a carrier feels unsafe, mail serviced could be halted — not only for the dog owner, but for a block or an entire neighborhood,” the USPS said in the release. “When mail service is suspended, customers must pick up their mail at their local Post Office. Delivery will be restored when the dog is properly restrained.”