On May 14, I posted a story under this headline: “Is the USPS still exaggerating in new Seattle dog bite count?” The Post Office that day had released its annual list of “dog attack city ratings,” putting Seattle in a tie for No. 15 with 28 incidents involving letter-carriers during the year ending September 30, 2013.
Why was I so skeptical? Last year, when Seattle was tied for No. 2 in the annual USPS press release with 42 attacks, others in dog-loving Seattle raised questions. So I filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the posties for the underlying paperwork.
Whadayaknow? It turned out the Post Office, which for decades has been on a jihad against dogs, exaggerated the Seattle attack count by 17%, including incidents that occurred outside city limits and even across Puget Sound on Bainbridge Island. Only 36 of the 42 occurred in Seattle proper, and two of them didn’t involve dog bites but dog lunges. And in case you wonder, nothing in the press statement the USPS sent out said out-of-town attacks were included.
Given this back story, I filed another FOIA request for the reports underlying the newest set of claims. Guess what? The USPS is still exaggerating!
Despite a nationally distributed press release saying Seattle had 28 attacks, the USPS coughed up reports for only 22 incidents. At least 2 of the 22 took place way outside Seattle–again on Bainbridge Island and the second in the suburb of Tukwila. So on the basis of present documentation that’s an exaggeration of 10%, material by any measure. And that percentage doesn’t count the three attacks that did not involve bites.
What about the other six incidents? Who knows? Over the weekend I filed a formal request from the New To Seattle world headquarters for either the missing reports or an explanation of the numerical discrepancy. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.
It will be interesting to see how my follow-up query plays out. Initially, after I filed my FOIA request last year, the locals essentially blew me off–not all that surprising given they oversee branches that sometimes run out of stamps. I had to file a formal administrative appeal full of ridicule with USPS headquarters in the Other Washington. It took me nearly six months to get the reports (along with a written apology from headquarters for the delay).
In due course I will publish here my detailed analysis of the new data, shaming specific neighborhoods whose dogs are the most dangerous for letter-carriers. (Last year, the worst area by a wide margin was insular West Seattle.) But to be comprehensive I need the missing reports–assuming they even exist.
Still, the evidence is already clear that the USPS again is maligning the good name of Seattle and its many canine residents. Grrrrrrrrr.