Dogs bark at mail carriers. Everyone knows that. It’s one of the enduring images of the American family, along with the white picket fence and the two-car garage.
But some dogs also bite mail carriers, and that’s where the whole pretty scene falls apart. After the U.S. Postal Service released its list of dog attacks on letter carriers in 2012, we were saddened by the numbers.
Nationwide, 5,879 postal employees were attacked, according to the Postal Service.
The worst area? Los Angeles. Last year, the city had 69 attacks on letter carriers, leading the Los Angeles Times to label the city “Most Vicious.”
Ken Snavely, L.A.’s acting postmaster, said, “Many dogs are cherished members of their family, and people believe their dog won’t bite, but given the right circumstances, any dog can attack.”
He also said that problem pets or dogs roaming a neighborhood can result in a suspension of services until the delivery area is deemed safe.
“If our letter carriers deem your loose dog to be a threat, you’ll be asked to pick up your mail at the Post Office until it’s safe to deliver,” Snavely said.
San Antonio and Seattle were next on the list, each with 42 attacks last year. Then came Chicago, with 41, and San Francisco, with 38.
The full list is as follows:
- Los Angeles: 69
- San Antonio and Seattle: 42
- Chicago: 41
- San Francisco: 38
- Philadelphia: 34
- Detroit: 33
- St. Louis: 32
- Baltimore and Sacramento: 29
- Houston and Minneapolis: 27
- Cleveland and Dayton, OH: 26
- Buffalo and Brooklyn, NY: 24
- Denver: 23
- Dallas and Tacoma, WA: 21
- Wichita, KS: 20
The numbers, while alarming, pale in comparison to the 4.7 million Americans annually bitten by dogs — more than half of whom are children — according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Postal Service released the list to kick off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, whose partners (including the American Humane Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association) offer the following tips to avoiding attacks:
- Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog.
- Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you.
- If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.
- Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
- Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
- Anyone wanting to pet a dog should first obtain permission from the owner.
- Always let a dog see and sniff you before petting the animal.
- If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.
- If you are knocked down by a dog, curl into a ball and protect your face with your hands.