Mail carriers always on alert for dogs

Steve Lepre waves to a dog at a house in Cranston on Thursday, May 22, 2014.

There are a number of dogs on Steve Lepre's 450-house mail route in the Budlong section of Cranston.

He said he knows some of them by name.

"I call it my choir. They just reach a crescendo as I come up the street," Lepre said.

One of the last things many hear before just getting bitten by a dog is, "Don't worry, he doesn't bite."

"That's the problem. People really believe their dogs won't bite," Lepre said.

Lepre has been a letter carrier for 30 years. During that time, he's been bitten twice.

"I was delivering mail, dog bit me on the back of the leg. I started swatting at it with the mail, and the lady was yelling, 'Don't hurt my dog, don't hurt my dog!' I said, 'He just bit me'. She said, 'He doesn't bite', and I showed her my leg which was bleeding, and she said, 'He didn't do that!'" Lepre said.

And the other time?

"German shepherd came out, I didn't even see him, and he just came back behind me. I just moved quickly and, boom, he just clamped right on. Yeah, that one left a mark," Lepre said.

And it's not just the mail carriers who were attacked last year. It's the 4.5 million people living in the U.S. each year who are on the receiving end of canine teeth, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The Insurance Information Institute estimates that in 2013, insurers across the country paid more than $483 million in dog bite claims. It's an average of $107 per bite.

The U.S. Post Office recommends to put your mailbox on a post by the street, keep your dog in the yard with a fence or in the house. But sometimes even that's not enough.

"I had a dog one time break right through a window. The window broke and he got all cut up," Lepre said.

Just because you might not like the delivery of bills and junk mail, the mail carriers still need protection from the pet that may become the menace.