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Neighborhoods group to focus on dogs, attacks at meeting

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, at 10:02 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, at 10:02 p.m.

Dogs will be the big talk Monday at Wichita Independent Neighborhoods’ bimonthly meeting.

Representatives from the Wichita Police Department, which oversees animal control for the city, and the U.S. Postal Service will speak about loose dogs and dog bites and attacks.

“Dog bites ... are having a direct effect on neighborhoods because when the Postal Service has a dog bite, they have to change delivery to the neighborhood,” said David Babich, who handles communications for the neighborhood group.

Wichita ranked 14th among large cities for dog bites of letter carriers in 2012.

“That’s very high considering that we’re much smaller than many of the other larger cities in the U.S.,” said Kelli Cunningham, supervisor of customer service support.

There were 20 dog attacks on postal workers in Wichita in 2012, according to the rankings released in May in association with National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Los Angeles topped the list with 69 attacks. San Antonio and Seattle tied for second with 42.

Dallas and Tacoma, Wash., ranked just above Wichita, with 21 attacks.

The Postal Service considers an “attack” an incident in which a dog either bites a carrier or leaps at a carrier and causes injury.

The Postal Service advises that dogs be kept in a separate room with the door closed when a letter carrier approaches a house, because dogs have been known to jump through glass or screen doors.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually, more than half of them children. Nationwide, 5,879 postal employees were bitten or attacked last year, the Postal Service said.

Babich said the neighborhood group years ago “was leading the pack” to get stiffer regulations regarding loose dogs.

He said the meeting Monday is to raise awareness about how dog attacks can affect delivery of mail.

“People need to know what’s going on out there,” he said.

The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the United Way, 245 N. Water. Speakers will be Capt. Troy Livingston, an acting deputy chief with the Wichita Police Department; and Ryon Knopik, manager of the Munger post office branch at 13th and Oliver.

Cunningham said mail service near the Munger station has been affected by dogs.

“If there is an area where dogs have been running loose and we have been having problems, we do tell customers that they have to change their mode of delivery,” Cunningham said.

That might mean curbside service or a neighborhood box.

“Some customers do get very upset with that,” she said. “They’re not losing their delivery, though.”

A letter carrier in Wichita recently sustained “pretty severe nerve damage in his hand” because of a dog bite, Cunningham said.

“We really want to raise awareness and make sure that people keep their dogs leashed or in their yard,” she said. “If they’re a threat to the carriers, think what they’ll do to a child.”

Reach Deb Gruver at 316-268-6400 or dgruver@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SGCountyDeb.

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