USPS Ranks Cleveland Tops for Dog Attacks on Postal Workers

10 Jun, 2022 Liz Carey

                               

Cleveland, Ohio (WorkersCompensation.com) – With 58 dog attacks in 2021, Cleveland, Ohio ranks as the city that poses the most serious threat to postal employees and the public, according to the U.S. Postal Service. 

As part of the USPS’s annual National Dog Bite Awareness Week June 5 through June 11, the Postal Service released its ranking of the top 25 cities for dog bites last week. The USPS said more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2021. This year’s campaign focuses on responsible dog ownership and dog restraint. 

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, dog bites account for an average 337,103 emergency department visits across the U.S. each year. Bites are located primarily on the upper extremity (47.3 percent), the head and neck area (26.8 percent) and the lower extremity (21.5 percent). Research indicated that the odds of hospital admission because of a dog bite were dependent upon the age group, with older victims being more likely to need hospitalization. Research indicates those bites cost an average of $400 million per year. 

“Every year, thousands of postal employees are attacked by dogs as they deliver America’s mail. And while it’s a dog’s natural instinct to protect their family and home, we ask all customers to act responsibly by taking safety precautions with their dogs while the mail is being delivered,” said USPS Employee Safety and Health Awareness Manager Leeann Theriault. “When a carrier comes to the residence, keep the dog inside the house and away from the door — or behind a fence on a leash — to avoid an attack.” 

In its annual rankings, the USPS said Cleveland topped the list of the most dog bites, followed by Houston with 54 bites, Kansas City with 48, Los Angeles with 44, Louisville with 42, Dallas with 38, St. Louis with 36, Chicago with 35, Detroit with 34, and Philadelphia with 32 in the top 10. 

The top state for dog bites were California with 656, down from 787 in 2021. All of the top four states for dog bites saw reductions in the number of bites, including Texas at 368, down from 410; Ohio at 359, down from 369; Pennsylvania at 281, down from 296; and Michigan at 244, down from 253. 

From nips to bites, dog attacks are a serious threat to postal employees, the USPS said. While letter carriers are trained to look out for areas where they know dogs may be present, and are taught to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions, most attacks come from dogs whose owners described them as docile, postal workers said. 

Carriers are trained on how to act around dogs, including not startling the dog and assuming that dogs don’t bite. If a dog does attack, the USPS said, carriers are trained to stand their ground and protect their body with something like their mail satchel, and to use dog repellent, if necessary.

Dog bites still happen, however. 

“I was bit by a dog on my leg recently and my mail satchel helped shield me,” said Francisco Juarez, a letter carrier who delivers in Houston. “The sound of a dog barking while on my route puts me on high alert and I try to be ready to protect myself.” 

Juarez said that he recognizes the importance of safety training, but that it still didn’t prevent him from being attacked. 

The USPS provides carriers with additional tools to remind them about dogs on their routes including a dog alert tool on their handheld scanners that can remind them of possible dog hazards, and dog warning cards used as reminders when they sort their mail on routes that a dog may interfere with delivery. 

The USPS said when carriers feel unsafe, mail service can be halted, not just for the dog owner, but for the entire neighborhood. In those cases, mail has to be picked up at the local post office until the dog is properly restrained.

But, the USPS said, it is up to residents to keep pets inside and restrained when mail is being delivered. 

“Dog bites are entirely preventable,” the USPS said. “One bite is one too many.”


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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