In the war between dogs and postal workers, you gotta hear both sides.
From a pooch’s perspective, mail carriers represent an everyday invader. Six days a week, this uninvited guest shows up at the door, but he or she is never invited inside. Just before the dog successfully wards the mail carrier away (yet again!) by making a ton of noise, the invader leaves some incredibly smelly things that have touched dozens of strange hands. Most of it bills and coupons.
Postal carriers, of course, are just doing their jobs, and dogs, bless their hearts, can make it frustrating and even dangerous for them to go about their days. But it turns out, dog bites represent a greater danger in some cities than in others.
The U.S. Postal Service has released its annual list of the cities where dogs inflict the most bites on mail carriers. The good news? Of approximately 2,500 municipalities where USPS tracks dog attacks against its workers, well more than half registered no more than one dog bite. The overwhelming majority of precincts saw only a handful of dog bites for both 2013 and 2012. But nearly 80 cities reported more than 10 dog bites in both years. This adds up to thousands of attacks against mail carriers: 5,581 all told in 2013 (down from 5,810 in 2012).
|Cities||Number of Bites, 2013||Cities||Number of Bites, 2012|
|Kansas City||33||St. Louis||33|
States where cities boast the highest number of canine-on-postal-worker attacks lead the nation in overall dog bites, according to claims data put together by State Farm—namely Texas, California, Ohio, and Illinois.
State Farm Dog Bite Claims, by State, 2013
Keep in mind, these figures also represent where State Farm does the most work. While there appear to be nearly seven times more dog bites in California than in all of New England combined, in fact, State Farm does not write any new business in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, according to a representative. You might expect to see more claims settled in Massachusetts, actually. According to Kenneth M. Phillips ("the nation's best-known practitioner of terrier torts" —Los Angeles Times), Massachusetts is a strict-liability state with "one of the best laws for the protection of dog bite victims, especially young children."
Dog bites are a costly problem: State Farm paid out $104 million in claims over 3,700 dog bites in 2013. That's only a fraction of the total number of dog bites every year—a staggering 4.5 million, which adds up to a real drag on productivity (which is to say nothing of the tragedy for victims).
The USPS reminds owners to remove dogs from the room when the mail is delivered. And children should never physically take mail from a mail carrier when their dog is present, as dogs sometimes see this gesture as a threat. No one's job needs to involve being bitten by a dog. Several cities clearly have work to do.