Dayton ranked No. 19 in U.S. for dog bites on postal workers

Images of letter carrier delivering to a house with dogs for the dog bite awareness campaign.
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Images of letter carrier delivering to a house with dogs for the dog bite awareness campaign.

Credit: Daniel Afzal, USPS

Dayton ranked 19th for most dog bites on U.S. postal employees last year, according to a recent U.S. Postal Service report.

The city had 19 dog bites on postal workers in 2020, according to the report. Five other Ohio cities listed in the top 25, giving the state the third most dog bites on postal workers overall with 369.

Dr. Jeffrey Amburgey, an emergency department physician at Miami Valley Hospital, estimated that he encounters around one to two dog bite victims per month, and that the wounds are most commonly found on the arms, legs and face. The COVID-19 pandemic might be a factor in the high number of reported dog bites over the past year, Amburgey said.

“It has increased even over the past year because people were staying home more and (when) they got quarantined (that) would get them home a lot longer,” he said. “I think just based solely on the fact that it’s more exposure, and you’re spending more time with your dogs, that’s what happens more.”

Montgomery County has been designating animal care and control officers to hold safety presentations for Montgomery County mail carriers, said Montgomery County Business Services Public Information Officer Michael Zimmerman.

Pet owners also can take many easy steps to prevent their dogs from becoming part of the issue, Zimmerman said.

“One of the biggest things that we push is having your pet spayed or neutered. A spayed or neutered pet is going to be much less aggressive than one who isn’t,” he said.

Zimmerman and Amburgey both encouraged dog owners to exercise caution when their pets interact with other people by keeping an eye out for signs of hostility. They advised owners to use a leash, keep dogs away from others when appropriate and to be wary of how their pets react in the presence of individuals they might not be familiar with.

USPS Strategic Communications Specialist Desai Abdul-Razzaaq also warned that electric fences might not always work when mail carriers are involved because they will sometimes have to walk across the fence’s electric borders to deliver mail. Customers can also opt for a post office service called Informed Delivery, which lets users know exactly what time their postage will arrive so they can plan to restrain their dogs accordingly.

Abdul-Razzaaq noted how important it is that customers do everything they can to keep their canines in check, especially around mail carriers.

“It’s a danger to our carriers trying to do their jobs,” he said. “We’re really just trying to keep our carriers safe. We want to deliver mail to every address at every point, we don’t want any type of disruptions in people’s service.”

Should you or someone you know be bitten by a dog, Amburgey recommended checking if the wound is bleeding and washing it.

“If it was bad enough, please call EMS to be transported to your local emergency department to be seen,” he said.

Antibiotics could be necessary, Amburgey said, as it’s common for infection to set in after a dog bite. He also advised that bite victims ensure they’re caught up on their tetanus shots, as dogs might be carrying the disease and could transmit it through a bite.