The Washington Post

Map: No postal worker is safe from dog bites


(Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

No letter carrier is safe.

Postal workers in every state and the District of Columbia reported dog attacks last year, according to a Post analysis of new U.S. Postal Service data.

California was home to the most: The Golden State blew the rest of the states out of the water with 955 dog bites reported by postal workers last year.

Texas was next with 324, followed by Ohio at 320 and New York at 305. Alaska was home to the fewest — just three reported bites.

All told, there were 5,581 reported dog bites last year — about 200 fewer than the year before.

In D.C., there were 17 dog bites reported. The worst city for postal workers was Houston, with 63 reported attacks. Sixty one were reported in Los Angeles and 58 were reported in Cleveland. All told there postal workers reported dog bites in 2,428 cities.

Here’s a map of the 62 cities that were home to the most dog bites:

The Postal Service’s data release was timed to coincide with National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 18 to 24.

Insurer State Farm reports that it paid out more than $100 million in dog-bite claims last year.

“Dog attacks are a nationwide issue and not just a postal problem,” Manager of Safety Linda DeCarlo said in a statement. “Any dog can bite, and all attacks are preventable through responsible pet ownership.”

To prevent attacks, the USPS suggests placing dogs in rooms away from a home’s front door. “Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers,” they write in the statement. Parents should remind kids to keep dogs secured if they take mail from a carrier (dogs might interpret the interaction as a threat and attack).

Dog bites are a particularly bad problem for children, who are more often in the emergency room for bites than skateboard, rollerblade, baby walker, ATV and horseback riding accidents combined, according to Kelly Voigt, president of Prevent The Bite, an organization dedicated to protecting kids against dog attacks.

Of the nearly 4.5 million Americans bitten by dogs each year, about half are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 885,000 dog bite victims need medical attention.

If you absolutely need a pet for protection, might we suggest a guard cat:

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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