Dogs attacked 38 Denver letter carriers in 2015

Posted at 8:18 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 22:18:37-04

Delivering mail can be a dangerous job in Denver.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) just released its annual dog attack city rankings, and just a spot shy of the Top 10 -- Denver comes in at 11 on the list. Thirty-eight letter carriers were attacked by canines in Denver last year, according to data released by the USPS.

“I got bit twice,” said Ignacio Rojas. “The first time I was on a sidewalk when a woman and her dog walked by. The dog turned around and bit me on the ankle.”

Rojas, who has worked for the Postal Service for three years, said the second attack happened as he was delivering mail to one of his customers.

“I approached the house and the dog didn't bark at me," he said. "I said ‘hi’ to the customer and ‘hi’ to the dog. As I turned around, the dog turned around and grabbed my ankle.

The carrier, who said he had to jump to get away, showed us a small scar on his right ankle.

When asked why there were so many attacks in Denver, USPS customer relations coordinator Suzette Perry-Rogers said, “We have a lot of pet lovers here. It puts our carriers at risk a little bit, because there are so many dogs.”

Perry-Rogers estimates that every third house has a pet.

"That's great," she said, "but some can be threatening to our carriers, because they do bite."

USPS Dog Attack Rankings/Number of Attacks

  1.  Houston -- 77   
  2.  San Diego/Cleveland -- 58
  3.  Chicago/Dallas  -- 57
  4.  Los Angeles  -- 56
  5.  Louisville, KY  -- 51
  6.  Kansas City, MO  -- 46
  7.  Philadelphia  -- 44
  8.  Columbus, OH  -- 43
  9.  Portland, OR  -- 41
  10. Ft. Worth/San Antonio  -- 39
  11. Denver  -- 38

Rojas said often times the dogs are in the house but are not totally secure. "Sometimes, they leave the windows open... that's when things can happen."

He added bigger dogs are often strong enough to push through window screens.

Tips to protect your carrier

* If your dog is loose behind your fenced yard, place your mailbox outside the fence and beyond the reach of your canine.

* If a letter carrier delivers a package to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. (dogs have been known to burst through screen doors and plate glass windows to get at strangers)

* Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handling mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

How to be a responsible dog owner

* Obedience training can teach dogs proper behavior and help owners control their dogs in any situation.

* Dogs can be protective of their territory and may interpret the actions of a letter carrier as a threat.  Take precautions when accepting mail in the presence of your pet.

* When a letter carrier comes to your home, keep your dog inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash.

* Dogs that haven't been property socialized, receive little attention or handling or are left tied up for long periods of time, frequently turn into biters.

Avoiding attacks

* Never leave a baby or small child alone with a dog

* Don't run past a dog.  It's natural instinct is to chase and catch you.

*If a dog threatens you, don't scream.  Avoid eye contact.  Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

* Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.

* Don’t disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating or carrying for puppies.

* Anyone wanting to pet a dog should first obtain permission from the owner.

* Always let a dog see and sniff you before petting the animal

* If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between you and the dog, such as a backpack or bicycle.


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