Dallas letter carriers are seeking help from city hall to combat an alarming dog bite problem.
Dallas Postmaster Bobby Collins said Dallas has the nation’s 7th worst rate of letter carriers bitten by dogs — 45 bites last year and 27 so far this year.
This is National Dog Bite Prevention Week and Collins told the Dallas City Council Wednesday that dog bites can be prevented.
“As Dallas City officials, you can help us with this awareness program,” he said.
Collins went to city hall with letter carrier Bill Leland, who’s been bitten by dogs five times in his 18 years on the streets of Dallas.
“In each case, the pet was allowed to run free or the door wasn’t secured,” Leland said.
Residents walk the same streets with letter carriers and Dallas City Council members have been hearing similar complaints from citizens for years about slow response to dangerous dogs.
“And one of the reasons is because Animal Services is seriously underfunded,” Councilmember Sandy Greyson said.
A proposed budget the city council reviewed Wednesday includes more potential cuts to Animal Services.
Council members made it clear they want Animal Service improvements and not more cuts.
Animal Services Director Jody Jones said the city’s animal shelter is currently taking in about 100 animals a day.
She said her department has about 93 full-time employees today, up from 89 in 2011, but it once had 126 employees.
Some council members said the city has been doing a better job lately of rounding up stray dogs.
But Mayor Mike Rawlings said another Animal Services problem is record-keeping and information technology to track performance.
“We can’t improve anything if you can’t measure,” he said. “It’s impossible to say are we making progress with any strategy if we don’t have a baseline.”
Collins warned mail delivery can be suspended to homes or even entire neighborhoods where there is a dangerous dog problem.
Residents would then be required to pick up their mail at a post office.
“To me, that’s a serious problem that we need to try to work out because we’ve got to work together,” Councilman Tennell Atkins said.
Councilman Rick Callahan said letter carriers have already refused to serve parts of his Pleasant Grove district and better cooperation with carriers is needed to help animal control officers solve the problems.
“You guys can be a big part of it because you go door-to-door every day,” Callahan said.
Collins said he was encouraged by the response.
“It seems like from the conversation they want to build a partnership and that’s what we need in order to reduce the number of attacks that we have in the Dallas city,” Collins said.