Dog attacks against Rapid City mail carriers

RAPID CITY, S.D, (KOTA TV) - Dogs chasing after mail carriers may be a joke to some but it's actually a serious issue.

This is the sound that makes most mail carriers feel uneasy.
Though, Cristen Westling loves delivering mail she will never forget when she was attacked by a dog three years ago.

"And then it ended up coming around and when I grabbed the scanner from the customer it then ended up biting me," said Westling.

Fortunately, she didn't need to go to the hospital. But loose dogs still persist.

Westling says there are two main areas where she grabs her satchel a little tighter and feels for the pepper spray. One is near the intersection of 9th Street and Fairview Street and the other is on the thousand block on West Boulevard.

Westling says twice she needed to go to the post office and file a dog and animal warning card. It's meant for other mail carriers to be more aware and cautious of certain areas on the routes.

The post office is taking it a step further by adding technology. Mail carriers can receive alerts on their scanners warning them about areas prone to have animal interference.

Since 2017, Rapid City has only had one reported dog bite attack per year. Unfortunately, this year kickstarted with an incident where two pit bulls attacked a woman mail carrier in her 60s.

"The dog caught her on the wrist, one of them, and the other had her on the back of the arm. Thankfully it was winter time and she had a very thick jacket on and it was canvas so it saved her as far as that goes. She was lucky," Rapid City Postmaster Lyle LaCroix said.

The woman ended up going to the hospital to treat her injuries and had to take two weeks off of work to recover.

Not only is this costly for the mail carrier but people can't receive their mail either. Instead, people receive a note notifying them that their mail will be held until the next time the mail carrier can make a safe delivery.

"It's not just us out here walking. It's kids. There's a school nearby. So it can be detrimental to others, your neighbors. So it's just important to keep them locked up and maintained," Westling said.