The U.S. Postal Service reported nearly 5,700 dog attacks on letter carriers across 1,400 cities in 2010, costing the agency almost $1.2 million in medical expenses. Leading the nation in the number of dog attacks on postal workers was Houston, Texas, with 62 dog attacks.
"We often hear two comments relating to the Postal Service: 'The check's in the mail,' and 'Don't worry, my dog won't bite,'" said Houston postmaster Matthew Lopez. "Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem."
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The Postal Service data showed that the 5,669 letter carriers who suffered dog attacks in 2010 represented less than 1 percent of the 4.7 million Americans attacked by dogs every year, most of whom are children. The statistics were released during National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Where Most Dog Attacks Occur
Here are the top 10 cities where dog attacks on letter carriers occurred in 2010, according to the Postal Service:
- 1. Houston, Texas - 62
- 2. San Diego, Calif. - 45 (tie)
- 2. Columbus, Ohio - 45 (tie)
- 3. Los Angeles, Calif. - 44
- 4. Louisville, Ky. - 40
- 5. San Antonio, Texas - 39 (tie)
- 5. St. Louis, Mo. - 39 (tie)
- 6. Cleveland, Ohio - 38 (tie)
- 6. Phoenix, Ariz. - 38 (tie)
- 7. Minneapolis, Mo. - 35 (tie)
- 7. Portland, Ore. - 35 (tie)
- 8. Denver, Colo. - 31 (tie)
- 8. Philadelphia, Pa. - 31 (tie)
- 9. Sacramento, Calif. - 30
- 10. Seattle, Wash. - 28
Dog Attacks Affect Service
The Postal Service said letter carriers who fear for their safety "due to a loose or unrestrained pet may curtail delivery and ask homeowners to pick up their mail at the post office until the carrier is assured the pet is restrained."
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"In cases where a carrier sees a dog roaming and can't discern where it resides, delivery could be curtailed to the entire neighborhood," the Postal Service warned.
Tips for Owners to Prevent Dog Attacks
The Postal Service said dog owners can prevent dog attacks on letter carriers by:
- Providing obedience training, which can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs;
- Keeping your dog inside, away from the door in another room.
- Spaying or neutering your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and bite.
- Nurturing your dog. Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.