USPS: Houston Tops for Dog Attacks in 2015

USPS released 2015 data that showed 6,549 of its employees were attacked by dogs last year, and that four Texas cities ranked in the top 10 among U.S. cities for dog attacks.

The U.S. Postal Service is marking National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 15-21) along with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, Insurance Information Institute, and State Farm Insurance. Ahead of the event, USPS released 2015 data that showed 6,549 of its employees were attacked by dogs last year, and that four Texas cities ranked in the top 10 among U.S. cities for dog attacks.

USPS also is putting two new safety initiatives in place to help protect its employees. The first went into effect May 13 on usps.com's Package Pickup application -- customers are asked to indicate whether there is a dog at their address when they schedule a package pickup. The second goes into effect later this spring, when the Mobile Delivery Devices that letter carriers use to scan packages to confirm delivery will include a feature that allows carriers to indicate the presence of a dog at an individual address, helping substitutes who fill in for letter carriers on their days off, said USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo. She spoke May 11 at a news conference in Houston, where postal employees suffered 77 attacks, more than any other city in 2015.

"Dogs are protective in nature and may view our letter carriers handing mail to their owner as a threat," she said. The news conference emphasized that dog bites are a national issue and education can help prevent dog attacks to people of all ages. Of the 4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs annually, half are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DeCarlo urged the public to follow these tips:

  • If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers.
  • Dog owners should keep the family dog secured.
  • Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet because the dog may view the letter carrier handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

USPS notes that, if a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained, and if a dog is roaming a neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office, as well.

The cities ranking highest in 2015 for dog attacks on USPS personnel were Houston, San Diego, Cleveland, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Kansas City (MO), Philadelphia, Columbus (OH), Portland (OR), Fort Worth, and San Antonio.

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