Postal Service reports increase in dog attacks on letter carriers

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The United States Postal Service has released its annual count of postal employees attacked by dogs — and the numbers aren't good for letter carriers. USPS says there were 6,755 such attacks in 2016, more than 200 higher than the previous year.

Los Angeles topped the list, with 80 attacks last year. Houston, Cleveland, San Diego and Louisville, Ky., rounded out the top five.

"Even good dogs have bad days," says Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo in a statement.

Americans own approximately 70 million dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. About 36 percent of U.S. households own a dog, with an average of 1.6 dogs per household.

The postal service releases the dog-attack numbers as part of Dog Bite Prevention Week, along with some advice on how people can keep their dogs from biting letter carriers.

Among the tips:

  • If a letter carrier delivers mail to the front door, put the dog in a different room. Dogs have burst through screen doors and plate-glass windows to attack visitors.
  • Some dogs might perceive a letter carrier handing mail directly to a family member as a threat, so the postal service advises not taking mail from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet.
  • On USPS.com, people can indicate whether they have dogs at their address. This helps fill-in letter carriers who don't know all the neighborhood hounds.

While letter carriers encounter plenty of dogs, they aren't the ones bitten the most. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children are most likely to be bitten. The rate is highest among kids ages 5-9. Among adults, men are more likely than women to be bitten.

Almost 1 in 5 dog bites gets infected, according to the CDC. Some diseases that can be contracted from a dog bite include rabies, pasteurella, tetanus and MRSA (a type of staph infection).

Cities that had the most dog attacks on postal workers in 2016:

  1. Los Angeles (80)
  2. Houston (62)
  3. Cleveland (60)
  4. San Diego (57)
  5. Louisville, Ky. (51)
  6. Detroit (48)
  7. Denver (47)
  8. Chicago (46)
  9. Indianapolis (44)
  10. Minneapolis (43)
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