A warning: Dog vs. mail carrier attacks on the rise in Pueblo

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — It’s not just a stereotype. There’s a surge of dog attacks on mail carriers in southern Colorado.

One particular post office on Pueblo’s south side has seen 11 percent of its workforce suffer dog bites in the past year. Now, they’re asking the community to help mail carriers be safe on the job.

Even non-aggressive dogs can lash out against strangers.

Two summers ago, Johnny Morris, a 17-year veteran of the postal service, got bitten by a pit bull while on the job.

“It tore up everything on my right side of my ankle. Had to do a reconstruction again,” Morris said. “Then that didn’t work, so I had to have four screws put in. Now I’m on modified duty because of a dog bite.”

Eight mail carriers from the Pueblo Sunset Station have been attacked just this year. That’s a jump of 62 percent from the previous year.

The post office and Pueblo Animal Control have formed a partnership, educating staff how to work with aggressive dogs.

“We work with animal control at least twice or three times a year,” said postmaster Minnette Williams. “To work with my carriers to tell them what to do if they are approached by a dog, how to handle it.”

Williams said they can’t do it alone. It takes cooperation from the community.

“We need the help of you putting your dogs in and confined when we are delivering,” said Williams.

Animal control experts said it’s natural for a dog to ward off a stranger.

“The biggest challenge that they face is animals, specifically dogs, are much more protective and aggressive when you are on their own property,” said Lindsey Bigna with Pueblo Animal Law Enforcement.

“I’m a dog lover,” said Donald Hemphill, another longtime mail carrier in Pueblo. “But you know your mailman comes around, you know the dogs don’t like mail carriers, milkman, policemen, put your dogs up, please.”

The animal control office said if your dog hurts a person, it is a criminal violation. You could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers the following tips on how to be a responsible pet owner:

  • Don’t put your dog in a position where it feels threatened or teased.
  • Train your dog.
  • Use a leash in public to ensure you are able to control your dog and to show others that you are in control of your dog.
  • Neuter or spay your dog.
  • If you have a fenced yard, make sure the gates and fence are secure.

The AVMA also has tips on what to do if a dog bite occurs:

  • If the dog’s owner is present, request proof of rabies vaccination, and get the owner’s name and contact information.
  • Clean the bite wound with soap and water as soon as possible.
  • Consult your doctor immediately or go to the emergency room if it’s after office hours.
  • Contact the dog’s veterinarian to check vaccination records.

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