INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A recent increase in dog attacks on Indiana letter
carriers has prompted the U.S. Postal Service to urge dog owners to do a
better job of controlling their canines when the postman approaches.
The Postal Service said it has recorded 83 dog bite incidents since October
involving carriers in its Greater Indiana District - up from 77 such
incidents in the same time period a year ago.
One of those incidents occurred last week, when an Indianapolis letter
carrier needed 14 staples for a head wound he suffered when he fell down 15
concrete steps after a dog on a resident’s porch lunged at him. Postal
officials said that carrier had believed the dog was under the control of
the owner, who was on the porch.
Indianapolis Postmaster Mary Sullivan said residents should keep their dogs
inside, away from the door, in another room or on a leash when letter
carriers approach. If they don’t, it could affect mail delivery to their
home or their neighborhood, she said.
“If our letter carriers deem your loose dog to be a threat, you’ll be asked
to pick up your mail at the Post Office until it’s safe to deliver,”
Sullivan said in statement.
Since October, the Indiana cities with the largest number of dog bite
attacks on carriers have been the Indianapolis area, with 13 incidents,
followed by Lafayette with six and Bloomington and Anderson with four
Nearly 5,900 letter carriers were attacked last year, although 4.7 million
Americans are annually bitten by dogs - more than half of them children,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Connie Swaim, director of canine training for the Humane Society of
Indianapolis, said some dogs attack because they feel threatened or sense
that their territory is being breached as letter carriers near their home.
The dogs also may be unnerved by letter carriers who might be wearing hats,
carrying large bags or wearing sunglasses.
“These are all things that can cause some dogs to become fearful of the
person approaching,” she said. “If the dog feels trapped, it may decide its
only option is to try and scare the postal employee away by barking, lunging
Dawn Contos, a spokeswoman for Indianapolis Animal Care & Control, said dogs
reported to authorities for biting someone are quarantined for 10 days to
make sure they do not have rabies. A local judge will then hold a hearing
and in most cases Contos said fines are imposed. She said the dog’s owner
also could lose ownership of the animal.