10 Cities with the Most Mailman Dog Bites

Sadly, “man’s best friend” is often a letter carrier’s worst menace. Despite extensive training on how to avoid aggressive canines — and ample supplies of dog repellent — nearly 6000 postal workers were bitten by dogs in 2012, according to newly-released statistics from the U.S. Postal Service.

Some cities are more fraught with doggy dangers than others, though. Los Angeles, CA ranks number one, with 69 postal employees reporting dog bites in 2012. This is the second year in a row that L.A. had the highest number of aggressive pooches on the loose. Houston took the dubious top distinction back in 2010, with 62 carriers reporting bites that year.

In the new ranking, San Antonio and Seattle tied for second place, each with 42 attacks each. Overall, 5,879 U.S. Postal Service employees were attacked by dogs last year, a 5% increase from 2011.

Since the postal service knows perfectly well that few experiences are more painful and tedious than waiting in line at a local branch, it’s using the threat of making people do just that to encourage them to keep their pups on a short leash. “If our letter carriers deem your loose dog to be a threat, you’ll be asked to pick up your mail at the Post Office until it’s safe to deliver,” Ken Snavely, the acting postmaster of Los Angeles, said in a statement.

The ten worst cities for dog attacks, as determined by the U.S. Postal Service, are listed below, along with the accompanying number of attacks in 2012:

  1. Los Angeles, CA (69)
  2. San Antonio, TX & Seattle, WA (42 each)
  3. Chicago, IL (41)
  4. San Francisco, CA (38)
  5. Philadelphia, PA (34)
  6. Detroit, MI (33)
  7. St. Louis, MO (32)
  8. Baltimore, MD & Sacramento, CA (29)
  9. Houston, TX & Minneapolis, MN (27)
  10. Cleveland and Dayton, OH (26)

Of course, many more people nationwide are bitten, but it’s common knowledge that mail carriers regularly face the threat of dog bites. There are many reasons for this. Mail carriers walk onto dogs’ territories every day, returning no matter what the dogs do to warn them—bark, growl, lunge or stare. From a canine perspective, these people just keep invading the dogs’ space each day without responding to their warnings. So for dogs who are territorial, postal workers are unwelcome, and their behavior sometimes escalates from warnings to actual bites.

The majority of dogs who bite do so because they are afraid. Fearful dogs are often especially scared of people who are carrying things, which puts people who deliver the mail at risk. Furthermore, these mail carriers turn their backs and walk away, an action that can give frightened dogs just enough confidence to act on their fears by biting.

To both fearful and territorial dogs (as well as dogs with both issues), uniforms are often associated with unfamiliar people arriving on their property, so the uniform itself can be a trigger that elicits aggressive behavior.

Postal workers aren’t the only ones getting injured. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that approximately 4.7 million Americans are annually bitten by dogs — and half of the victims are children.

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