It Was "Life or Death" Carrier Says
Houston, TX - Vicious roaming dogs are among letter carriers' biggest fears, and Houston leads the country in attacks on postal employees. Letter carrier, Sonia Perez knew her day might come. The 28-year-old, though, had hoped to go up against a pint-sized Chihuahua rather than the huge Rottweiler that attacked her last weekend.
She never had a chance to reach for her Mace. She screamed and punched as the dog repeatedly sank his teeth into her thigh, tearing out chunks of her flesh. The encounter lasted only a couple of minutes, but it was enough to leave deep puncture wounds that required a four-day hospital stay. Perez said she put up a fight. "I have my children to worry about," she told reporters.
Houston leads the nation in letter carrier attacks. Last year, more than 3,000 letter carriers were attacked by dogs, including 103 in Houston. Santa Ana, CA, ranked second with 86. Sacramento was third with 82. Houston held the second slot in 2006, with 94 attacks. That was down from 108 the year before, when it ranked first. Houston also owned the top ranking from 1997 to 2000.
Dave Lewin, the regional USPS spokesman said Houston's size and extended period of warmer months, when dogs typically are left outdoors, may account for the high number of dog attacks. The dog in last Saturday's attack likely will be euthanized. Jorge Blanco, the dog's owner, turned Baby over to the city Friday. He has not been cited in the incident.
"I think I made the best choice in putting him to sleep so he won't bite anybody later," he said. "I don't know what got into him that day."
Blanco unknowingly nails it: The difference between a rottweiler or a pit bull having a "bad day" and choosing to bite, versus a poodle doing the same is the difference between a LifeFlight helicopter and roadside clinic treatment. It's inexcusable that the USPS places its workers at such high risk and does not support breed-specific laws designed to prevent these tragedies.
According to Blanco, Baby was confined to the back yard but was able to slip out of his harness. Perez, just a couple of hours into her route, was on the sidewalk in the 4100 block of Walker when the dog attacked. "They train you to draw your Mace," she said, "but with that thing coming toward me, the only thing I could think of was to put up a fight."
Neighbors who heard her screams applied pressure to her leg with towels as they waited for paramedics to arrive. The four-year veteran said she will be back on her route in several weeks. Perez said a postal supervisor warned her the neighborhood was a "dog haven" where they are allowed to roam. It was her first encounter with a vicious dog. One she will never forget.
If the USPS knew there was a roaming dog problem in the neighborhood, why didn't they refuse mail service to the area?
It's standard procedure to shut down mail service in a neighborhood where postal carriers are forced to deal with loose dogs. DogsBite.org hopes Perez gets a good lawyer. We also hope that Blanco gets prosecuted under Lillian's Law for having a loose dog that viciously attacked a human being unprovoked.