6,755 postal workers were attacked by dogs last year

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Sometimes, cliches — such as dogs chasing after unassuming mail carriers — exist for a reason. There were thousands of dog attacks on postal workers last year, and Los Angeles had more than any other city, according to the latest ranking by the United States Postal Service.

The agency released its annual list on Thursday. There were 6,755 postal employees attacked by dogs last year, a 3% increase from the year before.

Rounding out the top five on the new list were Houston, Cleveland, San Diego and Louisville, Kentucky. Los Angeles, which took over the top spot from Houston this year, reported 80 dog attacks on postal workers in 2016. The numbers are compiled from workers’ reports to local postal service offices.

Although the number of dog attacks increased, it is not unusual to see high numbers, especially in metro areas, postal service spokesman Mark Saunders said. Larger cities have a denser population and more pets, which means more attacks, he said.

“Even good dogs have bad days,” US Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo said in press release. “Dog bite prevention training and continuing education are important to keep pet owners, pets and those who visit homes — like letter carriers — happy and healthy.”

DeCarlo recommends closing dogs in a separate room before opening the front door for a letter carrier. She also says to keep children and other family members from taking mail directly from a letter carrier in front of a family pet, as this may be seen by the dog as a threatening measure.

If a letter carrier feels threatened by a dog, or if a dog is loose or unleashed, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a post office, according to Saunders. If the dog is seen roaming the neighborhood, the owner’s neighbors also may be asked to pick up their mail at the area’s post office.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 4.5 million dog bites occur each year in the United States, and almost one in five bites becomes infected.

“When dogs tend to bite, it’s mostly because they’re fearful or they’re cornered,” said Melissa Bain, an associate professor of animal behavior at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Children are especially at risk; the CDC reports that the rate of dog-bite related injuries are highest for those between ages 5 and 9. Over half of dog-bite injuries occur at home, with familiar dogs.

There are several precautions to reduce the risk of being bitten by a dog, Bain says: Ask the owner before petting a dog, and let a dog approach you first before interacting with it. For pet owners, she recommends being able to recognize when your dog is uncomfortable around others and, if so, not letting people approach them.

 

Rank

City

2016

1

LOS ANGELES

CA

80

2

HOUSTON

TX

62

3

CLEVELAND

OH

60

4

SAN DIEGO

CA

57

5

LOUISVILLE

KY

51

6

DETROIT

MI

48

7

DENVER

CO

47

8

CHICAGO

IL

46

9

INDIANAPOLIS

IN

44

10

MINNEAPOLIS

MN

43

11

SAN ANTONIO

TX

42

12

PORTLAND

OR

41

13

DALLAS

TX

41

14

PHILADELPHIA

PA

40

15

COLUMBUS

OH

39

16

BALTIMORE

MD

36

17

PHOENIX

AZ

35

18

CHARLOTTE

NC

33

18

MEMPHIS

TN

33

18

FORT WORTH

TX

33

19

ST LOUIS

MO

31

19

SEATTLE

WA

31

20

SACRAMENTO

CA

30

20

KANSAS CITY

MO

30

21

BUFFALO

NY

28

22

BROOKLYN

NY

27

23

ST PAUL

MN

26

24

NEW ORLEANS

LA

25

25

CINCINNATI

OH

24

26

WICHITA

KS

23

26

OAKLAND

CA

23

27

LONG BEACH

CA

22

27

FLUSHING

NY

22

28

SAN JOSE

CA

21

28

LAS VEGAS

NV

21

28

AKRON

OH

21

29

OKLAHOMA CITY

OK

20

29

RICHMOND

VA

20

30

FRESNO

CA

19

30

WASHINGTON

DC

19