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El Paso Post Office says dog bites are taking financial toll
By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas --
In the latest United States Postal Service dog-bite incident study, the El Paso area was ranked 20th in the "Top 25 Dog Attack Rankings," with 20 attacks, the same as the previous fiscal year.
Last year, 14 of those cases resulted in OSHA injury and illness recordable cases, meaning the bitten employee was out of work on some type of limited work duty, or on prescription medication due to their injuries.
El Paso mailman David Mendez had his own run-in with an aggressive dog in July.
Mendez said he was delivering mail along his normal route when a large German Shepherd type of dog jumped over its fence and came at him.
"I just felt a bite on my back ankle, so I turned around, pulled out my pepper spray and sprayed it," Mendez said.
Mendez told KFOX14 it all happened in a matter of seconds, and the dog jumped back over the fence when he sprayed it.
He said the bite wasn't serious, and he was able to return to work the next day, but that isn't always the case.
Mendez took KFOX14 along on one of his shifts, and he was frequently greeted by aggressive, barking dogs when he passed by each house gate. He also pointed out the exact dog that had previously bitten him.
"Hundreds of letter carriers are confronted with dogs daily; unfortunately there are times when the dog comes out of the building, and they do bite our letter carriers," said Mario Castro, safety specialist for the El Paso Post Office. "You have your small dogs, like your chihuahuas, ankle biters, and you have your bigger dogs like your Rottweilers, pit bulls, which can cause serious injuries."
Castro told KFOX14 all 481 of their mail carriers go through training on how to defend themselves against dogs, but incidents still happen, sometimes putting the employees out of work.
"It's very costly for the post office, but more importantly, it's very painful for the individual," Castro said. "Every dog can be dangerous, regardless of what the owner says, they will bite."
Castro is asking for the public to do three things in particular to help protect mail carriers from dogs.
"Make sure dogs are inside or in backyards, keep them away from mailboxes, and don't let them roam the streets," Castro said.
Mendez doesn't have anything against dogs; he just wants owners to step up to the plate.
"We're trying to do our jobs; if the public could help us out, keep an eye on your dog, and make sure the gates are solid," Mendez said. "Give us a hand; we don't want to get bit."