A Lawrence postal official credits increased public awareness for a reduced number of dog bites suffered by mail carriers this year.
Since the U.S. Postal Service's fiscal year began in October, only one postal carrier in Lawrence has been bitten by a dog, said Postmaster Bill Reynolds. In the previous year, eight of Lawrence's 66 carriers were bitten while delivering mail.
Reynolds said the reduced number of dog bites was the result of public awareness of the problem and compliance with city ordinances for restraining and confining animals.
"We hope for continued cooperation from the customers," he said.
This public cooperation includes keeping dogs on a leash or tether away from the mailbox, Reynolds said. If a customer does not comply with postal service requests to keep a threatening dog secured, he said, mail delivery can be withheld from that customer or the entire block as a last resort.
Most dog bite incidents occur in the summer, Reynolds said, because more dogs are let outside by their owners, with some roaming free. Dogs also become more protective when children are out of school and playing at home, he said.
The lone case this year was unusual, Reynolds said, because it happened in December. He stressed that a dog's owner can be held liable for injuries from a bite. In the most recent case, Reynolds said the dog's owner had to help pay for the carrier's medical bills and torn uniform after the dog bit the carrier on the arm.
Nationally, Reynolds said there were 2,782 cases a year of carriers being bitten by dogs. The all-time record for these incidents was 7,000 in 1983, he said.