By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – U.S. Postal Service letter carriers across the city and especially in the Westwood neighborhood say they are constantly on the lookout for dogs that may bite when while on their route delivering mail.

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“I’ve always thought it was fascinating,” said Ricky Vanderwerken. “It’s a wonderful job, you work outside, you work with people.”

He joined the postal service five years ago as a letter carrier after serving in the military. He enjoys the job, but dog bites are often a concern for him. He has already recovered from seven different bites. Most of his time as a carrier, he has worked in the Westwood neighborhood.

(credit: CBS)

“The worst part about it is the animals,” Vanderwerken said. “At all times, you’re quite nervous, you really don’t know what’s around the next corner.”

One of the bites required three surgeries and he lost feeling in part of his hand. He was also out of work for 13 months.

(credit: CBS)

“I grew up with dogs,” he said. “I’ve always loved dogs.”

Denver is already considered one of the worst cities for dog bites among letter carriers, according to the U.S.P.S. Westwood is the neighborhood with the most dog bites in the city. There were 73 bites reported by carriers over two years in Denver and 12 came from that one neighborhood alone.

(credit: CBS)

Staff based out of that post office came forward to highlight how it affects so many of them. They have almost all been threatened by a dog and most had some sort of injury from a dog.

“I still love dogs when they are brought up well,” Vanderwerken said. “The biggest thing is to keep your dog secure.”

(credit: CBS)

U.S.P.S. will send flyers home to residents reminding them how they can help carriers stay safe on the job. Keeping dogs behind fences as well as on a leash are simple steps to avoid bites, according to the postal service.

Shawn Chitnis

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