Dallas and Fort Worth are on USPS list of cities with the most dog attacks on mail carriers

Dallas and Fort Worth are on USPS list of cities with the most dog attacks on mail carriers

Dallas and Fort Worth are on USPS list of cities with the most dog attacks on mail carriers

For at least 86 years, The Dallas Morning News has posted a similar story.

In 1938, the newspaper reported that a post office superintendent wanted mail service suspended in homes where aggressive dogs were present. He said that two or three U.S. Postal Service mail carriers were bitten each week. He cited one case in which a mail carrier had died from an infection caused by a dog bite to support his argument.

In 1967, News He spoke to Don R. Antoniello, who held the “dubious distinction” of being the 84th letter carrier to be attacked or bitten in Dallas during the past year. From July 1974 to June 1975, the paper reported that 61 carriers were bitten. In 1982, letter carrier Kathy Delmar was bitten by a dog, and her story earned a spot on the front page of the Metro section.

In 1995, postal workers Vangie Navarro and Don Doherty were bitten by dogs. In 1997, an unidentified Fort Worth mailman. The pages of News Similar anecdotes were told in the years 2000 and 2010.

But the 2023 data shows that after all these years, parts of North Texas continue to face the same problem.

According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), the Dallas-Fort Worth area was one of the most dangerous in the state for letter carriers when it came to dog attacks last year. Dallas had the second-highest number of dog attacks or bites on letter carriers in the state, and Fort Worth ranked fourth. The cities had 39 and 23 attacks or bites, respectively.

“That’s their number one threat … as long as there’s been a mail carrier. It hasn’t changed,” said Kimetra Lewis, president of the Dallas chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers. “Now, and we have to be more vigilant about other things, but dog bites are the number one threat.”

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Don’t bite the hand that serves you

In early June, the United States Postal Service (USPS) held its 2024 National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign. The postal service runs a similar campaign every year to educate dog owners and promote safe interactions between dogs and postal workers, said Lecia Hall, strategic communications specialist for the USPS in Plano.

“Dog owners can help protect postal workers,” Hall said. “Our campaign this year was, ‘Don’t let your dog bite the hand that serves you,’ and postal workers are the people who are out there serving customers.”

In 2023, there were more than 5,800 dog attacks on postal workers nationwide, which was an increase from the previous year. Of those, 411 occurred in Texas. Four Texas cities are on the U.S. Postal Service’s list of the top 20 cities with dog attacks on mail carriers. According to a letter to the editor written by Dallas Postmaster Daniel Reyes III, dogs bit an average of 15 mail carriers each day.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) began campaigning to raise awareness about dog bites in the mid-1980s, according to a report. Dallas Morning News Article written on June 19, 1995. At the time the campaign began, the service was recording 7,000 bites or attacks each year, the article said.

Both domestic and stray dogs can pose a threat, but Lewis said stray dogs are more likely to attack mail carriers.

Stray dogs are more common in certain parts of the city, such as South Dallas, Lewis said. Mail carriers are encouraged to call animal control through the city’s 311 number to report stray or loose dogs. Lewis said animal control should spend more time on the streets looking for stray dogs.

Marlo Clingman, Dallas animal services marketing coordinator, said the city has 41 animal services officer positions, though five are currently vacant.

The organization uses phone call data, online forms and an app to set up patrols based on the volume of reports in certain areas, she said. Animal services will be tasked with rounding up all of these dogs at once.

In May, animal services received about 7,000 calls and picked up 1,487 loose dogs, he said.

While Clingman would not comment on whether he thinks a greater presence of animal services would reduce the number of stray dogs, he said people should call animal services through the city’s 311 number if they see a loose dog. The city also has a loose dog survey running through the end of July, he said.

While Lewis said these stray dogs pose a bigger threat to mail carriers, domestic dogs can still be problematic, he said.

“I think dog owners are being very negligent and not making sure their dogs are properly restrained,” Lewis said. “I’m a dog owner, so I don’t think a dog would be tied up (on a rope) or anything like that in the backyard, but I think customers need to be more aware that they need to make sure their dogs are properly restrained.”

How to prevent bites and what to do when they occur

As part of its annual campaign, the USPS is highlighting steps dog owners and postal workers can take to prevent dog bites. Owners should keep their dogs behind a fence, away from the door or in another room or on a leash, the USPS said in its news release. Pet owners should remind children not to take mail directly from the mail carrier because the dog may view it as a threat to the child.

If a dog attacks, mail carriers are trained to stand their ground and protect themselves by placing something, such as their mail bag, between their body and the dog. If necessary, mail carriers use dog repellent.

However, if a mail carrier feels that your dog’s safety is at risk, they may prohibit delivery service in certain areas of a neighborhood until the dog is deemed safe. In these cases, mail must be picked up at the local post office.

When a dog bites a mail carrier, the postal service is required to pay injured workers for 45 days after the injury if they choose to continue receiving payment, Lewis said.

According to Brad Parker, a Bedford personal injury attorney who has worked in the field for nearly 40 years, they can also seek federal workers’ compensation after suffering an injury. They can also sue a third party (the dog’s owner) for the injury.

“One of the things we really focus on in these cases is fear, the sheer terror of being attacked by a dog,” Parker said.

Explanatory video: Why do dogs bite?

According to the most recent information available from the Insurance Information Institute, the average cost per insurance claim for a dog bite is $64,555. When a postal employee suffers an injury, the owner could be responsible for medical bills, lost wages, uniform replacement costs and the employee’s pain and suffering, the USPS said.

“I’m grateful that (the postal service) takes the time to, you know, talk to the mail carriers, have safety talks, advise them on ways to avoid being attacked and what they should do in the event that they are attacked by a dog,” Lewis said.

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