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Neighborhood group discusses dog bites, letter carriers

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, at 9:04 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at 6:53 a.m.

About two dozen people attended a meeting Monday night to discuss Wichita’s problem with dog bites and attacks on letter carriers.

No action was taken during the 90-minute Wichita Independent Neighborhood’s discussion on the topic, but members of Wichita’s neighborhoods heard from both Wichita Police Department and animal control representatives as well as the U.S. Postal Service.

The meeting was held because of the number of locations in Wichita that have had dog bite incidents, prompting the U.S. Postal Service to drop home delivery in those neighborhoods. Last year, Wichita ranked 14th in the nation for the number of dog bites reported by letter carriers, officials said.

Some of the neighborhoods most affected are generally older ones in Wichita, between Rock Road and West Street, where letter carriers deliver mail on foot.

“It is my job to ensure that my carriers and employees are working in a safe environment,” said Ryon Knopik, manager of the Munger post office branch at 13th and Oliver. “We need customers to do the necessary things to make sure the carriers are safe. One of those things is to keep dogs restrained.”

Letter carriers are asked to immediately call animal control or 911 to report dog bites or attacks, Knopik said.

The animal control department typically gets about 30,000 complaints a year, said Dennis Graves, Wichita’s animal control supervisor. It has a budget for 16 field officers and, at any given time, there are between two and six officers in the field.

To help answer complaints more readily, the city plans on updating the phone system and software for the animal control department, said Capt. Troy Livingston, spokesman for the Wichita Police Department, which oversees animal control for the city.

Some attending Monday night’s meeting want more action, quicker.

“I pay taxes, and I want my taxes to go to take care of animal control, whatever it takes,” John Stevens, a Wichita businessman and past WIN board member, told Livingston. “I don’t want to hear we need this equipment next year or three years from now. I want to know what we need right now to not have this problem any longer.”

“I don’t think I am offering excuses; I am trying to offer solutions,” Livingston said. “If I hired 100 animal control officers today and they started tomorrow, that is not going to prevent all bites.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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