The U.S. Postal Service just published its 2012 statistics on dog attacks on letter carriers as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week.
The city of Los Angeles, California, has received the dubious distinction as the dog-bite capital of the entire nation, with 69 attacks in fiscal year 2012.
Even more embarrassing for a city referred to by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as “world class” is the huge gap between this appalling number and #2 ranked San Antonio, which experienced only 42 dog bites for the same 12-month period, a score matched by Seattle.
Los Angles estimates that its human population is approximately 3.7 million people in a 469 square mile area. San Antonio is the second most populous city in the state of Texas, encompassing 412 square miles. And the Seattle metropolitan area reports around 3.5 million inhabitants densely populating 142 square miles.
Dog attacks are on the rise and are a nationwide issue and not just a Postal problem.
National Dog Bite Prevention Week is a good time for dog owners to be reminded that if your dog attacks a mail carrier (or anyone else) or causes injury in the avoidance of an attack, you may find yourself in court with a big bite out of your wallet. More than 5,000 mail carriers were victims of dog attacks in 2012, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
COMPARING THE LAST TWO YEARS
At the end of March, the U.S. Postal Service reported that 1,005 letter carriers nationwide had already been the victims of dog bites in 2012. This highlights the danger to those who provide a vital public service and indicates that dog owners who benefit from home mail delivery are becoming increasingly careless about assuring the safety of those who provide it.
The 2012 final numbers show Los Angeles with 69 attacks, San Antonio and Seattle tying at 42 and Chicago close behind at 41. This is followed by San Francisco, 38, Philadelphia at 34, Detroit at 33 and St. Louis at 32. The ranking from there for the top 15 cities is: Baltimore, Sacramento, Houston, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Dayton, Buffalo, Brooklyn, Denver, Dallas, and Tacoma. Wichita was the lowest at 20.
Nationwide, Houston, Texas, scored the #1 dog bite record in the U.S. in 2011 at 62 attacks, with Columbus, Ohio, and San Diego, California tied at 45 dog attacks, and Los Angeles close behind at 44. Other cities heading the list were Louisville, Ky.; San Antonio, Texas; St. Louis, Mo.; Cleveland; Phoenix; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; Denver; Philadelphia; Sacramento, Calif.; and Seattle.
MORE DOGS ATTACK IN SPRING AND SUMMER
Spring and summer bring an expected increase in dog attacks as weather gets hotter and more dogs are outside. But there are other reasons why warm weather brings an upswing in danger, not only to Postal carriers, but to anyone.
If dogs are NOT spayed or neutered, Spring also begins their breeding season, with female dogs frequently escaping yards and roaming the streets, and males vying savagely for the opportunity to procreate. This creates an unsafe condition for unsuspecting adults and, especially for children, who may be seen as a “challenge” to a territorial male because of their size and often innocent, noisy approach to a mating pair.
Also, if your dog is allowed to roam the neighborhood, the size of the territory the dog “owns” and protects increases—first being only the yard and house, then the sidewalk and then expanding into blocks. This is why many dogs are followed to homes with open gates or low fences not in the immediate area after they have just committed a serious attack on a mail carrier or other victim.
A SMALL DOG CAN TURN INTO A BULLY WHEN THE MAILMAN COMES
Many gregarious family dogs look forward to the daily visit by the letter carrier, finding it a time to get attention by alerting you that a visitor has arrived. But even a small, friendly dog can become suddenly territorial. It is a good idea to confine any dog in another room if the carrier comes to your door for a special delivery or if the door is opened while the carrier is placing mail in a mailbox.
For safety’s sake, do not send a child to get the mail from the carrier in front of the dog, who may not distinguish that this person reaching toward the child is OK. Even a normally tolerant dog can become defensive or overly protective if a carrier reaches toward its owner or any family member to hand them
PIT BULLS AND OTHER AGGRESSIVE-BREED DOGS POSE A SPECIAL THREAT
Pit bull attacks are on the rise because of the popularity of the breed as a “guard dog” and because many owners do not realize that maturity can bring much unexpected changes in behavior. Because of their speed, strength and persistence, attacks by Pit Bulls often result in more serious or fatal injuries to victims than most other breeds. The pepper spray carried by Postal carriers will not stop---and probably will not even phase—a Pit Bull that is in attack mode.
IF A POSTAL CARRIER FEELS THREATENED, MAIL SERVICE CAN STOP
If at any time, the postal carrier feels threatened, he or she can stop delivering mail to that home. And, if attacked, the postal carrier can sue the dog owner for any damages.
Pet owners can be held liable for all medical expenses and other cost, which could run into the thousands. The Postal Service may even consider stopping delivery to an entire area if dog issues continue to be a concern.
DOG ATTACKS ON POSTAL CARRIERS ARE PREVENTABLE
Dog attacks can be easily avoidable if pet owners keep their dogs inside the home or confined securely in an area away from where the mail is being delivered. Keep fences repaired and gates latched or locked. If your dog has found or made a hole through which to escape, be sure it is fixed quickly—negligence is not a justifiable excuse or a legal protection!