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Fido, Spot, Don't Bite The Letter Carrier

October 06, 1989|Clipboard researched by Elena Brunet, Susan Davis Greene and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times ; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these (Greek) couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," wrote Herodotus in the 5th Century BC. Today, this statement, inscribed on the New York City Post Office, serves as the U.S. Postal Service's unofficial motto about mail deliveries. But the Postal Service will make an exception for dogs on the loose.

Man's best friend is not always a favorite with postal carriers along their routes. According to Postal Service spokesman Joseph Breckenridge, attacks commonly involve dog bites or injuries resulting "from falling, twisting ankles or other joints, and bruises from striking fixed objects like fence posts and porch posts" as the mail carrier attempts to make an escape. One local postal carrier broke his wrist when a Great Dane knocked him down.

For their own protection, letter carriers carry not Mace but a repellent made of an extract of cayenne pepper (.65%) in a mineral oil base (99.35%).

"Property owners or their insurance companies paid approximately $3.7 million in their reimbursement for workmen's compensation benefits to injured letter carriers in fiscal year 1988," Breckenridge says.

The number of attacks in Orange County have remained consistent over the past five years, Breckenridge reports, although the postal service records for fiscal years '86 and '87 are incomplete. In fiscal year '85, the total number of dog attacks in the Santa Ana division of the Postal Service (including all but six cities in Orange County) was 102.

NUMBER OF DOG ATTACKS ON MAIL CARRIERS City FY 1989 FY 1988 Anaheim 16 19 Brea 3 1 Buena Park * 5 8 Costa Mesa 4 3 Cypress 1 0 Dana Point 0 1 Fountain Valley 3 4 Fullerton 3 9 Garden Grove 18 8 Huntington Beach 7 8 Irvine 1 1 Laguna Beach 6 5 La Habra 1 1 La Palma * -- -- Los Alamitos 1 1 Mission Viejo 1 2 Newport Beach 3 3 Orange 3 4 Placentia 2 2 San Clemente 3 2 San Juan Capistrano 1 1 Santa Ana 13 17 Seal Beach 0 0 Stanton 0 2 Tustin 1 2 Villa Park 0 0 Westminster 8 7 Yorba Linda 3 0 Unincorporated areas 3 1 TOTAL 110 112

* La Palma is included in Buena Park figures.

Source: U.S. Postal Service, Santa Ana and Long Beach divisions

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