We always love a good dog-bites-man story, especially when it directly concerns federal workers. But somehow we missed the release of some key facts this year about canine attacks.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Humane Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in May that dogs most frequently attack small children, the elderly and Postal Service carriers – in that order.

Also in May, the U.S. Postal Service released its 2013 data on dog attacks against postal employees. Here’s how that information breaks down:

Houston earned the dubious distinction of being the agency’s dog-bite capital of the nation, lunging to the top spot from its previous No. 9 ranking on the agency’s annual list of most frequent locations for attacks.


Dogs attack postal workers more than anyone except children and the elderly, according to expert data. Here, a pair of canines play-bite at a park in Arlington, Va. (Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)

In a niblet of good news for postal-employees and their tender extremities, the number of incidents for USPS personnel declined by 5 percent last year compared with 2012, as the agency recorded 5,581 attacks.

Houston showed no such improvement, with the number of its incidents rising from 27 to 63, or 133 percent, over the same period.

Los Angeles, which previously held top spot, fell to No. 2, with 61 attacks last year. And Cleveland rounded out the top three for 2013 with 58 incidents, catapulting the city from its 2012 ranking of No. 10.

Washington, D.C. ranked 24th on the 2013 list, with 17 attacks, while Richmond  finished the year at No. 30, with 11 incidents. The 2012 numbers for those cities are not available for comparison, since neither jurisdiction made the Postal Service’s then-shorter list of 14 cities.

Check out the top 30 of 2013 to see where your city stands, or view the graphic below for a general sense of the leading jurisdictions. (Darker shades of red represent higher numbers).

Top 30 locations for postal-worker dog bites


(Graphic by Josh Hicks/The Washington Post Data from US Postal Service.)

Dogs bite about 4.5 million people each year, and about half of the affected individuals are children, according to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in five of the overall incidents require medical attention, the CDC said.

To prevent attacks on postal carriers, the USPS recommends that customers place their dogs in a separate room when deliveries arrive, noting that pets have been known to burst through screen doors and even plate-glass windows to leap at strangers.

The Postal Service also says parents should tell their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of family dogs, since pets can interpret the exchange as a threatening gesture to the child.