OK, it's not actually that funny. The U.S. Postal Service today released data on the nation's top cities for dog attacks on postal carriers, and St. Louis tied for fifth (along with San Antonio) with 39 attacks in 2010. Houston was the top dog, with 62 letter carriers bitten last year.
"People laugh, ha ha. It's not funny," says Mark Saunders with the postal service. "Until you've experienced it, you can't imagine." Saunders himself recalls being attacked by a pooch while riding his bike as a kid.
The data were released to coincide with Dog Bite Prevention Week, which runs from May
15-21. The USPS was out $1.2 million last year in medical
care for carriers who looked cross-eyed at Fido. And according to the
Insurance Information Institute, more than a third of homeowners'
insurance payouts were related to dog bites, to the tune of $413
So it's serious business, and dog owners need to be
aware that even though of course darling FiFi is a perfect angel, dogs'
protective impulses can and do kick in. Any dog might interpret the
friendly lady coming to the door with a box full of Internet shoes as a
threat, and switch into defense mode. Saunders says postal customers
should put their pet in another room, behind a closed door, whenever
they open up for a carrier.
Postal carriers are trained to
maneuver rain, snow, sleet and hail, of course. But they're also trained
to avoid dog attacks, and they pack heat.
"We give them
extensive training," says Saunders. "They're trained to place their
satchels between them and an animal. And they carry a little can of
pepper spray -- it's been approved by the Humane Society."
The American Veterinary Medical Association offers the following tips:
How to Avoid
· 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.
approach a strange dog, especially one that's tethered or confined.
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
training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their
· When a
carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door in another
· 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
· Spay or
neuter your dog. Neutered dogs are less likely to roam and
· Dogs that
receive little attention or handling, or are left tied up for long periods of
time, frequently turn into biters.
We're No. 5! Celebratory chomps all around.