I do not deny Congress’ power, under Article I, Section 8, to “establish post offices”, but I was quite surprised to receive the following notice in my mailbox today, especially given the fact that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is running an annual deficit of over ten BILLION dollars:
It’s not the fact that I live in an apartment and my unrestrained dog (if I had one) would have to get through my front door, down the hall, into the elevator, down the elevator, off the elevator, then through two additional doors to even get to where the mail is delivered that I’m mostly upset about (although that did strike me as terribly funny when I originally read the notice). What really upsets me is that, given their woeful financial state, “National Dog Bite Prevention Week” is even an issue at the USPS.
If dog bites to postal workers were causing significant financial losses to the USPS, then I could understand their investment in thousands (or possibly millions) of notices. But they’re not. By their own admission, my area didn’t even make it on to the list of “Fiscal Year 2011 Top 25 Dog Attack Rankings”, meaning there were less than 15 dog attacks in fiscal year 2011.
Further, although approximately 4.7 million people are bitten annually, “[c]hildren are the majority of victims and are 900 times more likely to be bitten than letter carriers.” Since children account for approximately 50% of dog bites, that gives us:
children = 0.50 * 4,700,000 = 2,350,000 bites
children = 900 * mail carriers
mail carriers = children / 900
mail carriers = 2,350,000 / 900 = 2,611 bites
In 2011, there were 228,160 delivery routes, which for the purpose of this rough approximation should mean approximately 228,160 mail carriers. This means that for any one mail carrier (averaged across all mail carriers, obviously it’s a bit lower for my mail carrier, given the challenges for a dog in my building) over the course of the entire year, their chance of being bitten by a dog was 1.14%. And that’s not the chance of an injury-causing bite. That’s the chance of any bite. Only about 1.7% of all bite victims end up with injuries bad enough to send them to the emergency room.
There is a place for National Dog Bite Prevention Week in local communities. It is not a bad idea. Local daycares, preschools, and elementary schools can teach children the principles of “Wait, Ask, Invite, Touch“. Local businesses that regularly access properties where dogs might be can send out emails (after all, it’s in the best interest of their bottom line to keep their employees safe) or leave printed notices. Local agencies, especially Animal Control Officers, can alert citizens about the consequences of badly behaved and unrestrained pets during registration. All of these things make good sense for the community. Having the USPS spend money it doesn’t have on something that isn’t its responsibility does not.