Man's Best Friend (Unless you Work for the Postal Service)

By on May 12, 2011 in Current Events with 10 Comments

Image of dog grabbing mailman's pants legIt’s a cliché you often hear about: dogs vs. the mailman.  It’s an ongoing battle akin to a sports rivalry. And though the hackneyed clichés you see in cartoons about dogs attacking the mailman might be funny, in real life it isn’t so funny as a serious dog attack can leave a person seriously injured or even dead.

The Postal Service has released its latest data on the nation’s cities that play host to the most dog attacks on letter carriers in 2010, not a statistic a city would be likely to proudly display at the local Chamber of Commerce.

And who is the winner?  Houston, TX, with a total of 62.

Rounding out the top 10 are the following cities and their numbers of attacks:

1 HOUSTON, TX: 62
2 SAN DIEGO, CA: 45
2 COLUMBUS,OH: 45
3 LOS ANGELES, CA: 44
4 LOUISVILLE, KY: 40
5 SAN ANTONIO,TX: 39
5 ST LOUIS, MO: 39
6 CLEVELAND, OH: 38
6 PHOENIX, AZ: 38
7 MINNEAPOLIS, MN: 35
7 PORTLAND, OR: 35
8 DENVER, CO: 31
8 PHILADELPHIA, PA: 31
9 SACRAMENTO, CA: 30
10 SEATTLE, WA: 28

Nationwide in 2010, 5,669 postal employees were attacked in more than 1,400 cities. Medical expenses from dog attacks cost the Postal Service nearly $1.2 million last year.

“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’. Given the right circumstances, any dog can bite. Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem,” said Matthew Lopez, Houston Postmaster. “Working with animal behavior experts, we’ve developed tips to avoid dog attacks, and for dog owners, tips for practicing responsible pet ownership.”

Some of those tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) include the following:

How to Avoid Being Bitten

  • 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.
  • Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.
  • People choosing to pet dogs should obtain permission from the owner first and always let a dog see and sniff them 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.

How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner

  • Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs.
  • When a carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door in another room.
  • Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of letter carriers as a threat. Please take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and bite.
  • Dogs that receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.

And when it comes to your local neighborhood mail route, remember to keep your dog on a leash or otherwise confined. Your mailman will appreciate it.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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