Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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USPS Dog Bite Statistics for 2019

Dog bite statistics USPS
Postal carriers and delivery people face the occupation hazard of dog bite injury as a result of the behavior of a territorial aggressive dog.

Dog bite injury inflicted on people in the United States has remained at relatively consistent levels for the last 15 years. a number of surveys have shown that about 4.5 million people in the United States are bitten by dogs annually. A small percentage of these victims are USPS mail carriers.

The USPS thankfully takes the dog bite occupational hazard mail carriers face seriously. For example, the USPS sponsors a National Dog Bite Awareness Week annually, which ran from June 14 – June 20 in 2020.

The effectiveness this particular week has on lessening the dog bite problem in the USA is questionable, however. For example, the number of postal carriers bitten by dogs and 2019 did not decrease dramatically from instances of dog bite injury in 2018. In 2019 USPS reported 5803 dog bite attacks, which was only 200 fewer than in 2018 and only 400 fewer when compared with 2017 totals.

Despite the misgivings of the USPS and Donald Trump’s failure to attend to the financial problems of the USPS, the USPS nonetheless has adopted strategies to reduce dog attacks. Mail carriers carry handheld scanners, which indicate the presence of a potentially dangerous dog at an individual address. Also, service alerts sent to a homeowner’s smartphone provide notice of an upcoming delivery.

Nonetheless, dogs will be dogs, attacks will happen, and occasionally postal carriers will sustain severe dog bite injury.  Some law firms specialize in handling these clients.  In one such case, I was retained as an dog expert witness. The incident happened as a result of the postal carrier falling backward off a sidewalk curb. He attempted to avoid a charging German Shepherd mix dog. The dog escaped from the confines of its house. The postal carrier was not bitten because of his quick thinking in using his satchel to protect himself from the teeth of the dog. Nevertheless, his fall resulted in severe injury to his back. Given that the case did not fall under California’s strict liability dog bite law, the plaintiff to win his lawsuit had to prove that the landlord knew about the dog’s dangerous propensities. The case went to trial in Los Angeles. The jury returned a verdict of $992,000 for the plaintiff.

Below I summarize recent dog bite statistics released by the USPS for 2019. It is not clear if all the instances include those in which the carrier sustained an injury in some fashion other than a bite, as in the example above.  A more comprehensive discussion of dog bite statistics in the United States it appears elsewhere on this website.

The top 10 Dog Bite Cities for 2019

  1. Houston = 85 (number of reported instances)
  2. Los Angeles = 74
  3. Chicago = 54
  4. Cleveland = 51
  5. Dallas = 40
  6. Columbus = 35
  7. Philadelphia = 34
  8. Toledo =32
  9. Denver = 30
  10. San Diego = 29

Dog Bite Statistics by State

  1. California = 777  (number of reported instances)
  2. Texas = 491
  3. Ohio = 378
  4. Illinois = 323
  5. New York = 339
  6. Michigan = 224
  7. Pennsylvania = 237
  8. Florida = 229
  9. New Jersey = 169
  10. North Carolina = 162