DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Mail carriers are fighting for their safety as officials with the City of Dallas continue to struggle to find answers to the stray dog problem.
The Dallas Postmaster and letter carriers will go before the Dallas City Council this afternoon to address the risks they face on the job every day. They say their goal is to bring more attention to a common health problem in their profession: dog bites and attacks.
Nationwide, there were more than 6,500 letter carriers attacked by dogs last year, 57 of those were in Dallas. "Dogs are protective in nature and may view our letter carriers handing mail to their owner as a threat," said USPS Safety Director Linda DeCarlo.
The new urgency to tackle the stray dog and dog attack issue in the city of Dallas came earlier this month after resident Antoinette Brown was viciously attacked and mauled. The 52-year-old woman lingered in critical condition for a week before dying from her injuries. Family members say she was bitten more than 100 times.
But there have been a number of incidents since Brown was killed. Just this week, police were called to one Dallas neighborhood. When officers arrived they witnessed two dogs break free, bite a resident and then charge at them.
The incidents have officials promising action that will include more patrols, traps, and possibly stricter penalties for dog owners.
The issue of loose dogs and postal worker attacks seems to be statewide. Letter carriers in Houston suffered 77 dog attacks last year, more than any other city in the country. Dallas tied for third, with Chicago, on that list -- last year the city was 5th worse in the nation. The cities of Fort Worth and San Antonio tied for 10th place on the list, with 39 dog attacks each.
The Postal Service is working to educate the public by providing prevention tips to help avoid dog bites. Three important tips are:
- If a letter carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door.
- Dog owners should remind their children about the need to keep the family dog secured. Parents should remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet.
- If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well.
Officials with the United States Postal Service say they recognize the problem and have initiated new safety measures to alert letter carriers of dogs on their delivery routes. Now postal employees are demanding the city take steps to keep them safe as well.
The postal employees will meet with the Dallas City Council at 1 p.m.
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