Portland mail carriers attacked by dogs 41 times

Portland ranked 12th in USPS list of cities for 2016

Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s OK if Portland falls lower on this list.

The US Postal Service released its annual ranking of cities where mail carriers are attacked by dogs, and Portland ranks 12th — which is down from 9th in last year’s survey.

Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)

Billy Brink has been a letter carrier in Portland for 37 years — and he’s been bitten “a number of times,” more often by small dogs than large dogs.

The first time it happened, he said, he was “a lot younger than I am now. … I took my satchel — I had the old-fashioned satchel on my shoulder — I took it off and just put it in front of the dog. Dogs typically like to attack those satchels, so that’s what saved me.”

In 2016, 6755 postal workers were attacked by dogs, the USPS said.

> In Portland, 41 dog attacks were registered, placing the city 12th on the list in a tie with Dallas.

> Los Angeles is this year’s worst city, with 80 attacks. Houston fell to 2nd place (62), with Cleveland (60), San Diego (57) and Louisville, Kentucky (51) rounding out the Top 5.

> Seattle came in a 19th-place tie with St. Louis (31 attacks), with Fresno and Washington DC in a tie for 30th with 19 attacks.

His most recent attack happened within the past year, he said. He was filling in on another route “and I was in sort of strange terrain and this dog just came out of nowhere.”

Brink said it’s a constant issue and, he said, a loose dog “is a serious opponent.”

Among his tools for dog protection are a dog spray that is “cayenne pepper-based.” He also has an airhorn “which is extremely effective.” Soon he expects to have “a very piercing whistle.”

His suggestion is for people to be responsible pet owners.

“Keep the dog restrained, especially when the people are home. Dogs love to show off and protect children, their owners, so please keep your door shut. Don’t give your dog access to get out and get to a letter carrier. That’d be great.”

The USPS is using technology to help keep mail carriers safe, but it needs cooperation from the public. When a customer uses the Package Pickup application on usps.com, they’re asked to indicate whether there is a dog at the address. That information is relayed through the delivery scanners.

“This information is particularly helpful for substitute carriers who fill in for regular carriers on their days off,” US Postal Service Safety Director Linda DeCarlo said in a statement.

Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)

There are other tips USPS provides:

• When a mail carrier delivers mail or packages to your door, put your dog in a separate room and close that door.

• Teach your children and family members to not take mail directly while the family pet is nearby. The animal may see that as a threatening gesture.

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

• If a mail carrier feels threatened, the owner may be asked to pick up mail at a nearby post office. And if a dog is roaming the neighborhood, the neighbors may also be asked to pick up mail at the post office.

Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)
Veteran mail carrier Billy Brink along his route in Portland, April 6, 2017 (KOIN)