CHICAGO — Mail carriers and dogs are old foes in the Sunday comics, but the U.S. Postal Service says dog bites are no laughing matter — especially in Chicago.
Chicago ranked among the cities with the most dog attacks on postal workers, according to a recent USPS report.
Chicago ranked fourth with 41 attacks in fiscal year 2012, which ran from July 1, 2011, through July 30, 2012.
Los Angeles was first with 69, and San Antonio and Seattle were tied for second with 42.
Jonathan Rosenfeld, a Chicago attorney, said he has represented many postal workers for dog attack injuries in his 14 years as a personal injury lawyer.
"They're statistically more likely to be victim of a dog bite just because, by the nature of their job, they're in close proximity to many more dogs," he said.
People are most often bitten on the hands, legs or face, which can cause disfigurement and scarring. Psychological trauma, like a fear of dogs, can also result, Rosenfeld said.
Owners are advised to keep their pooches in secured rooms or on leashes when accepting deliveries, as canines can feel threatened by an unfamiliar person in their territory, USPS said.
Even if a dog has gone through obedience training, owners shouldn't think their dog is incapable of lashing out, USPS said.
"We often hear two tall tales at the postal service — 'the check's in the mail,' and 'don't worry, my dog won't bite,'" said Delores Killette, USPS vice president.
The dog bite report was released as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which begins Sunday.
Almost 2,000 Chicagoans are bitten each year, according to the Commission on Animal Care and Control.
Wednesday morning, a pit bull attacked a man and 16-year-old boy in Englewood, police said. The dog was shot and killed by a police officer.
Chicagoans can report potentially dangerous animals by calling 311.
"If a dog threatens you, don't scream," the postal service advises. "Avoid eye contact, remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight."
If a dog is about to attack you, try to shield yourself with a purse, backpack or bicycle. And never run, as "a dog's natural instinct will be to chase and catch you," the postal service advised.