With its graceful trees, old mansions and breathtaking views, Queen Anne long has been one of Seattle’s nicest–and most expensive–neighborhoods. Here’s another distinction. According to official U.S. Postal Service reports, the dogs of Queen Anne attacked more letter-carriers than any other city neighborhood during the latest federal fiscal year.
Of the 28 documented dog attacks on USPS workers–down from 36 a year earlier–three took place on Queen Anne. No other Seattle neighborhood had as many. However, five ‘hoods had two incidents each: Beacon Hill, Central Area, Columbia City, Phinney Ridge and Wallingford. Generally, the attacks were scattered across town, although a wide swath of North Seattle had none.
One neighborhood that really cleaned up its act was isolated West Seattle. Only one attack was noted in the year ending September 30, 2013, compared with nine–25% of the entire city total–during the previous year.
The interactive map above, which I put together with Mapalist.com (that’s who’s asking for a donation, not me) and Google Maps, plots the precise location of each dog attack. Clicking on any bloody red box containing the deceptively cute dog reveals the street address and the option to zoom in the neighborhood. You also can resize the overall map and move the field of view to your heart’s content.
By and large, the incidents–most of them actual bites rather than missed lunges, which the Post Office also counts–were not serious enough to warrant medical attention. The feds provided the reports, variously written in the first and third person, with the location of the attack but, on privacy grounds, the names of all carriers and dog owners deleted.
So I can’t name names. But I can name places with gripping detail!
The three Queen Anne attacks took place within a 49-day period during the summer of 2013, apparently a period of rising dog tensions in one of Seattle’s most genteel areas. On July 3, a carrier at 1516 3d Ave. W had just delivered mail to a mailbox and was going back to the front gate when she “observed a shadow to her left side and a dog came up from behind and bit employee on her left forearm.” The dog was not described by size or breed.
A month later on August 6, a carrier was delivering mail at 1403 W Dravus St. “I went through their gate and I didn’t notice that the house door is open,” the carrier wrote. “Then suddenly this little chihuahua come running and barking, and he went around me and bit me in the right rear leg. Didn’t have a chance to avoid the bit, because I had a handful of mail, flats and advos (advertising flyers) in my satchel. The owner of the dog come running out and grab her dog and apologize to me for what happen and ask me if I’m okay. I said I’m okay. It happened so fast I didn’t have a chance to react.”
Two weeks later, it happened again. On August 21, a carrier was making a mail delivery at 114 W Garfield St. “As she approached the steps leading to the mailbox near the front door, a pit bull that lives there came down the steps, barking and growling at her. Carrier backed up and protected herself with her mail satchel. But the dog went around her and bit her behind the right upper leg.” The owner intervened.
On one occasion, an attack had twin perps. “As the carrier was delivering” to 5023 8th Ave NW in the University District on April 8, 2013,, “two small dogs came out of the residence and bit the carrier on the right and left calf.”
West Seattle’s sole incident was one of the few that did not entail an actual bite. On March 4, 2013, at 4518 SW Charleston St., “carrier was on steps when a large unrestrained dog charged and jumped up on her. After the attack the dog managed to knock her off the steps. The incident caused her to hurt her back.”
Good deeds by couriers in the swift completion of their appointed rounds occasionally went unrewarded. On September 5, 2013, at 3230 17th Ave S on Beacon Hill, “the carrier was delivering mail … when the owner arrived home. The carrier was telling the owner that her dog was out roaming the streets. The owner said, ‘Oh, here he is.’ The dog started barking and bit the carrier in the right calf.”
In the other Beacon Hill incident, on October 13, 2012, at 1343 S Shelton St., “a medium size white and brown pit bull came charging out from around the right side of the house and attacked the carrier … Fortunately, the carrier was not seriously injured or mauled by the pit bull but did sustain injury to the pinky finger on his right hand.”
On a per-square-mile basis, the most dangerous dog area for carriers might have been Phinney Ridge, a narrow, tiny hill of homes near the Woodland Park Zoo. It also was the location of perhaps the worst attack, and another one with the biggest recorded dog. On April 26, 2013, at 911 N 70th St., “a loose dog came out of the house and bit the carrier in the groin area causing skin abrasion to the right testicle. Carrier was taken in for medical care.” A half-year earlier, on October 17, 2012 outside 6012 3d Ave NW, a carrier was going up steps “when a large mixed breed dog (about 85 lbs.) attacked him biting him on the right calf of his leg, causing a puncture wound with superficial scratches. The carrier did not have the chance to use the dog spray since he did not see or hear the dog coming. The dog attacked again and the carrier sprayed the dog. The owner heard the commotion and retrieved the dog and placed him in the house.” The carrier checked to make sure the dog’s rabies shot was current.
Perhaps the most prolonged attack was recorded on November 16, 2012, on the 900 block of 30th Ave. in the Madrona neighborhood. “As carrier was approaching 931 30th Ave., a large black dog suddenly approached her barking and trying to bite her. The dog continued circling around her as she defended herself with her satchel and yelled, ‘Help me.’ The dog bit her left forearm and made contact with her left thigh. The dog continued its attack until a customer from 943 30th Ave. ran over to help, but the dog continued attacking until the owner from 927 30th Ave. came running out and tried to call her dog off to no avail. After several attempts the owner was finally able to get her dog into the house.
The information came from reports coughed up by the Post Office in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the New To Seattle world headquarters. It followed what is becoming a yearly pattern. Long sensitive to dangerous dogs, USPS headquarters in the Other Washington sent out a national press release in May ranking dog-loving Seattle high on its “Dog Attack City Ranking List” (tied for No. 15th this year, lower, at least, than last year’s tie for No. 2). My FOIA request last year–and a follow-up appeal accusing the agency of being more worried about the privacy of dogs than people–eventually smoked out the fact that the USPS exaggerated the Seattle count 17% by including incidents occurring outside city limits and even on the other side of Puget Sound.
This year, while I didn’t have to file a formal appeal when the requested documents were not all released within the specified time period set by law, I did have to send a follow-up letter. As it turns out, while the USPS again gave me reports of attacks occurring outside the city–and again across the sound on Bainbridge Island–the number actually taking place within Seattle proper was exactly the 28 reported in that press release.
Named for the architectural style of its early homes, Queen Anne is the city’s highest named hill. That’s not the only thing up around there.