In Seattle, tensions between dogs and letter carriers

Labrador retriever (via Wikipedia)

Labrador retriever (via Wikipedia)

Poor Seattle. The U.S. Postal Service today released what it calls its “dog attack city rankings.” Seattle came in tied for second with San Antonio, both cities a good ways behind leader Los Angeles.

According to the feds, for fiscal year 2012–I guess that’s the 12-month period that ended September 30, 2012–Seattle canines drew a bead on 42 local letter carriers. There must be something about the Puget Sound. Tacoma was tied (with Dallas) for 18th on the list, at 21 incidents. No. 1 Los Angeles noted 69 encounters.

The list of 20 included most of the nation’s largest cities. But there were some notable exclusions, including New York City as a whole (although Brooklyn, one of city’s five boroughs, was included), Phoenix, San Diego and San Jose, Calif. Besides Tacoma, some smaller cities found themselves among the giants, including Dayton, Ohio; St. Louis, Buffalo, Wichita and, yes, hated Sacramento.

There certainly are a lot of dogs in Seattle. Trying to calculate letter carrier dog bites per dog capita strikes me as an illuminating exercise in canine civility–and maybe one that might make Seattle look better. But I can’t find quickly a reliable national list of dog ownership numbers by city.

So I did a little back-of-the-envelope figuring using humans (on the theory people are supposed to control their dogs), for which there is reliable data. By my reckoning, there was a letter carrier dog incident in Seattle for every 14,786 residents.  On this list, that worked out to be the sixth worst (the lower the number, the more frequent bites per human capita).  That, at least, was better than being tied for second worst.

In case you wondered, the five worst by this metric were Dayton (one dog incident for every 5,461 residents), Tacoma (9,524), St. Louis (9,938), Buffalo (10,875) and Minneapolis (14,370). With its large population, Los Angeles dropped from first to 16th. Of course, it’s possible that using a per-capita basis, some cities below the top 20 might move up a lot, making Seattle and other cities look, well, less vicious.

Meanwhile, my neighborhood post office branch in Seattle just ran out of stamps I needed. This was not the first nor even second time for me here, even though I never had experienced this in my pre-New To Seattle days (which is to say, my entire life). The Seattle-area post office operation is clearly not the brightest bulb on the front porch when it comes to managing or allocating its resources. Nor, it seems, to protecting its letter carriers on their appointed rounds.

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In Seattle, tensions between dogs and letter carriers — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Postal Service apologizes for hiding Seattle dog-bite reports | New To Seattle

  2. Pingback: Seattle again through the eyes of different search engines | New To Seattle

  3. I assume the Postal Service compiled its data on the basis of actual reports of dog bites. The number for Seattle–42–is not a huge number. It’s less than one a week. According to the Seattle Animal Shelter, there are 153,000 dogs in Seattle. To me, it’s not hard to imagine one rogue dog out of every 3,643 canines (assuming no repeat offenders).

  4. The letter carrier’s (USPS) and package delivery (UPS) people around Magnolia are our dogs FAVORITE people! Almost to a fault because they are associated with treats! With that in mind, I am very skeptical of the survey.

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