A pit bull that had already bitten someone before remained in quarantine Tuesday after attacking a U.S. postal carrier at a south Wichita home and leaving him with 26 stitches, officials say.
The owner of the dog could face a charge, most likely a misdemeanor, for the bites, said Wichita police Lt. Joe Schroeder, who oversees the city’s animal control operations.
The incident comes at a time when Wichita police are reviewing more dog-bite cases, Schroeder said.
Across the nation last year, dogs attacked 5,767 letter carriers, and Wichita has ranked as high as 15th in the nation in that category in recent years, among larger cities such as Miami and Fort Worth, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman said.
The 10-day quarantine on the pit bull that bit the mail carrier will determine if the dog has rabies. If it is found that the animal meets the definition of a “Level 1 dangerous dog,” it will have to be confined to a pen or muzzled when not in the pen and cannot be allowed to escape, Schroeder said.
The 53-year-old carrier was bitten Friday morning in 5900 block of East Bellaire, according to a police report. That’s southwest of Oliver and Mount Vernon.
Schroeder gave this account: The dog pushed through a fence weakened by wet soil and attacked the carrier on the front porch of the house where the dog lives.
“The animal was on him before he knew what was happening,” Schroeder said.
The initial attack knocked the carrier to his knees, and he was able to get up. He suffered bites on both arms and a leg, Schroeder said.
The dog’s owner ran out, got the dog under control, gave first aid and called for help, Schroeder said. The owner has been cooperative, he said.
The pit bull had already bitten someone in the neighborhood in the past, but that person didn’t want to pursue charges, Schroeder said.
He noted that under a recent change, police are pursuing more bite cases involving serious injuries, especially when the injuries are not provoked.
“We’re going to use a common-sense approach to it,” he said. “It’s not a witch hunt on any dog or particular breed of dog.”
The first priority is to protect the community, Schroeder said.
Neighbors in the 5900 block of East Bellaire have been told that delivery of their mail will change. The Postal Service plans to install locking, centralized boxes at the end of the street.
“Changing the mode of delivery to a centralized delivery point will protect our carrier while continuing to provide mail service to our customers in the area,” Brian Sperry, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, said in an e-mail. “We will work with customers with hardship cases to ensure they get their mail safely.”
“We strongly encourage dog owners to restrain their dogs and allow the carriers to deliver the mail safely,” he said. “We want our carriers to go home to their families and loved ones safe each night.”