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Postman recovering after pit bull attack

The dog jumped a fence and bit his face as he was on his Torrance route. His condition is serious.

August 23, 2007|Tami Abdollah | Times Staff Writer

A popular 60-year-old mail carrier remained in intensive care Wednesday, two days after he was attacked by a pit bull on his route in Torrance, police said.

The mail carrier, a Cerritos resident and 25-year employee of the U.S. Postal Service, was walking by a house in the 700 block of Amapola Avenue on Monday. According to Torrance Police Officer Dave Crespin, the carrier told someone in the frontyard, "Hey, I don't have any mail for you today," and then a pit bull weighing about 100 pounds became aggressive, jumped a 4-foot wrought-iron fence onto the sidewalk and bit the carrier's face.

The carrier, whose name was not released, was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital, Crespin said. The carrier had surgery Tuesday.

The brindle and white pit bull was taken to the Los Angeles County Animal Shelter in Carson, where it will remain until its fate is determined by city officials at a hearing to be held in the next two weeks. The incident is also being reviewed by Torrance police, Crespin said.

On Wednesday, the carrier was in serious condition, using a breathing tube and heavily sedated, said Richard Maher, a Postal Service spokesman. Maher said the carrier was a regular on the route and popular with residents, who have sent in letters praising him over the years.

"He was very well liked, not only by the community but other Postal Service workers," Maher said.

Maher said the carrier had identified the house as having a dog in routine paperwork, but he did not know of any previous run-ins with the pit bull.

Dog attacks have been a continual problem for the Postal Service, especially in Southern California.

Last year 226 carriers were bitten by dogs in Los Angeles and Orange counties, making it one of the highest rates for any metropolitan area in the nation, probably because of the high population density and good weather, Maher said. Nationwide, 3,200 carriers were bitten last year, he said.

"It's a hazard of the profession -- and it's up to the owners of the dogs to make sure they're always being restrained," Maher said.

All new carriers are given training in how to prevent, and protect themselves from, dog attacks, Maher said. They are also given pepper spray to carry with them, though they rarely have a chance to use it, Maher said.

"If they have a package in their hand or have a mailbag, to try and put that in the dog's face so the dog bites that," Maher said.

Maher said mail will no longer be delivered to the home, as is usual after an attack.

"They're going to have to come in and pick up their mail as long as they live in that house," Maher said.

tami.abdollah@latimes.com

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