Top 10 States Where Many Postmen Are Bitten By Dogs. Photo: knowinsiders.
Top 10 States Where Many Postmen Are Bitten By Dogs. Photo: knowinsiders.

Carriers have had more interaction with canines—thus more opportunities for attacks. Dog attacks pose a serious threat to postal employees and the public and to highlight the problem, the USPS is running a weeklong campaign, with the theme, “The USPS Delivers for America - Deliver for Us by Restraining Your Dog.”

In total, more than 5,400 postal employees were attacked by dogs in 2021. According to the US Postal Service, California leads the way as the state with the most canine-related injures.

Here are the top states for postal carrier dog bites in 2021:

List of top states where many postmen are bitten by dogs

1. California: 656 dog bites

2. Texas: 368 dog bites

3. Ohio: 359 dog bites

4. Pennsylvania: 281 dog bites

5. Michigan: 244 dog bites

6. New York: 239 dog bites

7. Illinois: 226 dog bites

8. Florida: 201 dog bites

9. Washington: 139 dog bites

10. Kentucky: 123 dog bites


What are top states that have many postmen are bitten by dogs?

1. California: 656 dog bites

Los Angeles, CA

-Dog attacks in 2021: 44

-City population: 3,973,278

California led the nation in dog attacks on mail carriers in 2021. According to, California is one of the states with "strict liability" dog-bite laws that make pet owners responsible for most dog-bite injuries. When the victims sue to get compensation for their damages, it doesn't matter whether the owners knew their dogs had ever bitten someone before. That means they can't argue that they didn't know their dogs could be dangerous, or that they took care to prevent the animals from hurting someone.

The law has some limits, however. The owner is strictly liable only if the injured person:

-was bitten, and

-was either in a public place or "lawfully in a private place" (including the dog owner's property) when the bite happened.

For the purpose of the statute, anyone who's carrying out a legal duty (like delivering mail) is lawfully on private property.

California's strict liability statute won't help victims who were injured by dogs that didn't bite them—for instance, when the dogs attacked their bicycle wheel or chased them on a motorcycle and caused an accident. But that doesn't necessarily mean they have no other options. Injured people may able to receive compensation if they can prove that their injuries resulted from the dog owners' negligence. For example, suppose a dog jumps on a child who's playing on the sidewalk and scratches the child's eye. If the victim's parents sue, they must prove that the owner didn't use reasonable care to control the dog, such as by keeping it on a leash or in a fenced-in yard.

What Counts as a "Bite" Under California's Dog-Bite Law?

If a dog grabs someone with its teeth but doesn't break the skin, that could still count as a bite. In a case where a worker fell from his ladder after a dog closed its jaws on his pants, the court held that the animal's owner was liable for the injuries under section 3342 (Johnson v. McMahan, 80 Cal.Rptr.2d 173 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1998)).

2. Texas: 368 dog bites

Houston, TX

- Dog attacks in 2021: 54

- City population: 2,313,238

Dallas, TX

-Dog attacks in 2021: 38

-City population: 1,338,846

Texas doesn't have a civil liability law specifically for dog bites, but that doesn't mean you won't be liable if your dog bites someone. The Texas Supreme Court articulated the law and standards that Texas follows for animal attacks in a case called Marshall v. Ranne, as reported.

Texas adheres to the so-called "one bite rule." Marshall v. Ranne, 511 SW 2d 255 (Tex: Supreme Court 1974). The Marshall court specifically relied upon Restatement of Torts section 509, which sets forth the traditional doctrine that makes a person liable for harm inflicted by a domestic animal. It is referred to as "scienter" (the Latin word for "knowingly"), "common law strict liability," and "the one bite rule." As it applies to dog bites, this doctrine holds that a victim can recover compensation from the owner, harborer or keeper of a dog if (a) the dog previously bit a person or acted like it wanted to, and (b) the defendant was aware of the dog's previous conduct. If either of those conditions are not met, however, the victim cannot employ this doctrine as a ground for recovery, as reported.

In Lewis v. Great Southwestern Corporation, 473 S.W.2d 228 (Tex.Civ.App.-Fort Worth 1971, writ ref'd n. r. e.), the court expressed the rule in the following manner: "The owner of a dog is not liable for injuries caused by it, unless it is vicious and knowledge or constructive notice of that fact is shown or brought home to the owner."

Get a Legal Review of Your Texas Dog Bite Situation

If you've been bitten by a dog, the first thing you should do -- after getting the contact information of the owner (if nearby) -- is seek medical attention. Since the owner of a dog that bites you may be strictly liable for your injuries, you don't have to prove negligence. Get started on recovering for damages for the dog bite today by having an animal and dog bite attorney in Texas review your case.

3. Ohio: 359 dog bites

Cleveland, OH

- Dog attacks in 2021: 58

- City population: 383,331

Columbus, OH

- Dog attacks in 2021: 31

- City population: 889,079

In general, dogs get one free bite before their owners become liable. If they bite someone one time, there are no consequences, and the owner is simply expected to take better care to train and restrain her dog in the future.

If you’re bitten by a dog in a common law jurisdiction, you’ll have to prove that the dog has bitten or tried to bite someone else before. You’ll also have to prove that the owner of the dog knew about that incident. It’s tough to prove in court, which is why many states have enacted specific laws tightening the rules for dog bites.

Ohio has strict statutory liability for dog bites. In other words, Ohio law explicitly makes dog owners liable for every bite, including the first one.

Anyone who has knowledge of a dog bite, whether it is the person bitten or the owner of the dog, needs to file a bite incident report to the health commissioner in the local health jurisdiction where the bite occurred within 24 hours. A rabies exposure risk assessment will be completed, and the dog will be quarantined.

Top 10 States Where Many Postmen Are Bitten By Dogs In America

The Ohio Department of Health tracks animal bites yearly, including potential exposure to rabies via bites. In 2020, the latest year available, there were 15,358 potential rabies exposure dog bites in Ohio, as reported.

If you’re bitten by a dog in Ohio, you’re generally entitled to compensation from the owner. That compensation should cover any medical expenses you incur as a result of the dog bite as well as any property damage. If the bite was so severe that you were forced to miss work, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages. You may also be entitled to compensation for “non-economic” losses, such as scarring, pain and suffering, and psychological damage.

What to include in an Ohio dog bite incident report

-Description of the dog

-Owner of the dog

-Location of where the dog bite happened

-How the dog bite occurred

-Dog’s rabies vaccination status (if known)

4. Pennsylvania: 281 dog bites

Pennsylvania law states that an owner is liable for all damages when a person is severely attacked, or if the person is attacked and the dog previously has been considered dangerous. Victims can recover full compensation if the dog owner was negligent or fails to comply with the state dog laws. If the dog hasn't bitten before, two things can happen. If the victim's injuries are severe (physical injury that results in broken bones, disfiguring lacerations, or injury that requires cosmetic surgery), he or she can make a claim against the dog owner for medical expenses, as well as other losses and legal damages. A victim not severely injured can make a dog claim for medical expenses.

Pennsylvania's Dog Law requires owners and keepers to have reasonable control over their dogs at all times. The law also requires owners to confine their dogs on their premises, and restrain their dogs with a collar, chain, or other device to prevent straying. Dog bite victims who prove that a dog owner violated Pennsylvania's confinement statute, may recover under a theory of negligence per se, as reported.

5. Michigan: 244 dog bites

Detroit, MI

- Dog attacks in 2021: 34

- City population: 672,351

The state of Michigan holds the owner of a dog strictly liable for dog bites to a human being that were not provoked, provided that if the incident happened upon the dog owner's property the victim was not a trespasser or there to do something unlawful or criminal. Liability also can be based upon scienter, negligence, and other grounds such as battery.

Dog owners are limited to the defenses enumerated in the statute, namely that the plaintiff provoked the dog or the plaintiff was a trespasser at the time of the incident. Nicholes v. Lorenz (Mich. 1976), 237 N.W.2d 468.

The second most significant ground is negligence. It can be based on anyone's unreasonable actions or unreasonable failure to take an action. Negligence also can be based on the violation of a leash law or animal control law. See Zeni v Anderson, 397 Mich 117, 128-129 (1976); Gould v Atwell, 205 Mich App 154, 158 (1994). For example, Section 10-27 of the Grosse Pointe Code of Ordinances requires dogs to be kept on a leash when off the owner's property. (Subsection (a) of section 10-27 states that "[n]o owner of any dog may permit such dog to stray beyond his premises unless the dog is on a leash but no longer than 10 feet in length which leash is properly held by a person capable of restraining the actions of such dog, or unless such dog is in an enclosed vehicle or container.")

According to, some cities in Michigan have strict liability laws that go beyond the state's strict liability ordinance. For example, section 10-28 of the the Grosse Pointe Code of Ordinances provides that "[e]very owner of a dog shall be liable for damages for any and all injuries to person or property caused by such dog, to be determined and collected in appropriate civil proceedings, and nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impose any liability upon the city, its agents or employees, for damages caused by such dog." It is a strict liability law that covers "any and all injuries" to both people and animals (as well as other property), making it more expansive than the state statute.

6. New York: 239 dog bites

New York is a "mixed" state, meaning that it has a dog bite statute that mixes the one-bite rule with a limited degree of strict liability. The statute makes the owner or keeper of a previously adjudicated "dangerous dog" strictly liable only for the victim's medical and veterinary costs. For other damages, New York requires a victim to prove that the dog had the dangerous tendency to bite people, and that the dog owner knew it. New York does not permit victims to recover compensation on the ground of negligence, at least in most circumstances where the defendant is the owner of the attacking dog.

New York courts have long recognized a cause of action that imposes strict liability on the owner for injuries inflicted by his dog if the victim can establish that the dog is vicious and that the owner knew or should have known about such vicious propensities. The state's highest court ruled "that the owner of a domestic animal who either knows or should have known of that animal's vicious propensities will be held liable for the harm the animal causes as a result of those propensities. Vicious propensities include the propensity to do any act that might endanger the safety of the persons and property of others in a given situation." Bard v. Jahnke, 6 NY3d 592 (N.Y. 2006), citation omitted.

When Can I Sue a Dog Owner for an Attack?

In nearly every situation involving dog-owner liability, you must prove that the owner had knowledge of their pet’s prior behavior and risk of attack. As reported, examples of when a dog owner may be held liable for a dog bite include:

-If there are previous complaints: A dog owner may be held liable if others have issued complaints about the dog’s vicious behavior, especially if the animal is frequently violent or has bitten before.

-If the dog has been trained to attack: A pet owner will likely be held responsible for damages caused by an animal who has been trained to attack because the owner is fully aware that his or her dog is dangerous and capable of violence.

-If the dog tends to jump on others: When owners know that their dogs frequently jump on people, it is their duty to prevent their pets from jumping up and knocking others over.

-If the dog has displayed previous frightening, vicious behavior: This can include situations in which a dog chases others to the point where they are frightened, or barks viciously from behind a fence as though it is willing to attack.

-If the dog has attacked before: This falls under the one-bite rule; it proves that the owner knew his or her animal has bitten before.

7. Illinois: 226 dog bites

Chicago, IL

- Dog attacks in 2021: 35

- City population: 2,699,347

Top 10 States Where Many Postmen Are Bitten By Dogs In America

States generally take one of two approaches when it comes to dog bite laws. The first is often called the “one-bite” rule. In these states, the dog owner usually gets one free bite before liability is imposed. This is because the dog bite victim must prove the dog owner knew or should have known the dog had a dangerous propensity to bite. If the dog’s owner has never seen the dog become violent before, they might not have had a reason to suspect they would bite the victim. However, if the dog owner knew the dog might bite because of previous experience or other proof, the dog owner may be responsible for paying for the victim’s damages, such as their medical expenses, psychological harm, lost income, and pain and suffering.

The second approach states take is a “strict liability” rule. In these states, if the victim shows the dog attacked them and they are entitled to protection under the law, they can be compensated for their medical expenses and other damages. They do not have to show what the dog’s owner knew or didn’t know or even that the animal owner was negligent in any way, as reported.

Illinois is a strict liability dog bite state. Under 510 ILCS 5/16, a dog owner is liable for the full amount of a dog bite victim’s injuries if their dog “attacks, attempts to attack, or injures any person” who:

-Is peaceably conducting themselves

-Has a lawful right to be in the place where the incident occurred

-Does not provoke the dog

8. Florida: 201 dog bites

Florida is a “strict liability” state, which means an owner can be held liable for a dog bite, even if they were not previously aware of the aggressive nature of the animal. Most importantly, Florida dog bite laws do not require the victim to prove their injuries were a result of an owner's negligence, as reported.

Under Florida statutes, a dog owner can be held liable for injuries if it can be proven that the dog bit the victim and that that victim was either in a public space or lawfully on private property.

If a victim was injured under circumstances other than those listed above, it may still be possible to bring a personal injury claim against the owner. In these cases, the victim will have to prove the owner acted negligently or failed to use reasonable care, which caused the injury.

Victims may be able to recover compensation for their injuries under one of the following common law claims:

-Negligence – An owner may be found negligent if they failed to provide a level of care similar to how another reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances.

-Negligence per se – An owner may be held liable if they violated statutes or regulations that are put in place to protect and ensure the safety of the public.

-Scienter – Known as the “one bite rule,” this provision allows anyone with knowledge of a dog's attack history or attempted bites to be held liable for damages.

-Intentional tort – In certain cases, a claim, such as battery, may be pursued if the owner intended for the dog to attack the victim.

9. Washington: 139 dog bites

Washington has specific dog bite laws to go along with the state’s pet-friendliness. Section 16.08.040 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) states:

“The owner of any dog which shall bite any person while such person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place including the property of the owner of such dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.”

Washington’s dog bite law is very straightforward. As a dog’s owner you are liable for any injuries your dog causes to another person both in public and – if the person is there legally and did not provoke the dog – on your own property. Section 16.08.040 only applies to dog bite incidents. Other cases of canine destructive behavior would fall under parts of the RCW that address negligence.

Top 10 States Where Many Postmen Are Bitten By Dogs In America
What is The Timeline for Filing A Dog Bite Claim?

A statute of limitations applies to filing a dog bite claim in Washington. Dog bite claims follow the same timeline like any other personal injury claim, meaning a person filing a lawsuit seeking damages for a dog bite injury must file within three years from the date of the injury. The courts will most likely dismiss a case without a hearing if a person files after the three-year deadline. It is very important to always understand the statute of limitations in your area when filing a claim or lawsuit.

10. Kentucky: 123 dog bites

Dogs are a regular fixture of Kentucky life, whether they're hanging out at the stables in Lexington, or walking with their owners in downtown Louisville. But dogs also have the capacity to do real damage, and can bite when you least expect it. In Kentucky, dog owners are strictly liable for any injuries their dogs cause by biting others. This means that even the most responsible dog owners, with no reason to believe their dog is vicious, are still liable if the dog unexpectedly snaps at a child's hand and causes an injury.

Any dog that is declared to be dangerous by a Kentucky court must be kept in a location that is secure from other people. Failure to comply with vicious dog regulations can result in fines, jail time, or both.

The state also recognizes comparative negligence when determining ratios of fault among the involved parties. For example, someone who approaches a dog that is snarling or otherwise signaling aggression - and is promptly bitten - may be at least partially at fault for using bad judgment. If the court agrees, then his claim will be reduced in proportion to his comparative fault, as reported.

Carrier and the canine

Letter carriers are trained to observe an area where they know dogs may be present. They are taught to be alert for potentially dangerous conditions and to respect a dog’s territory.

Letter carriers know:

→ Don’t startle a dog.

→ Keep your eyes on the dog.

→ Never assume a dog won’t bite.

→ Call the dog’s name, if it’s known, and talk to it in a friendly manner.

→ Never attempt to pet or feed a dog.

If a dog attacks, the carrier is trained to stand their ground and protect their body by placing something between them and the dog — such as their mail satchel — and use dog repellent, if necessary.

Also, carriers have dog warning cards that are used when they sort their mail for their routes to remind them there is a dog that may interfere with delivery. Carriers also have a dog alert feature tool on their handheld scanners that can be used to remind them of a possible dog hazard.

Even though postal officials ask customers to control their dogs, unfortunately dog bites still happen, which may cause injuries to our carriers and costly medical expenses for dog owners. Please heed the above best practices to help stop dog bites and protect your letter carrier.

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