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A letter carrier suffered a "particularly gruesome attack" by two dogs yesterday in northwest Denver. Ironically, the attack occurred on the first weekday of the U.S. Postal Service's Dog Bite Prevention Week.

The carrier suffered extensive bites trying to fight off a chow-chow and a husky that had escaped out an open door in the 4500 block of West 34th Avenue, about 10 blocks due north of Sloan's Lake. A neighbor came to her rescue also was injured, and both were rushed to a hospital.

David Rupert, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Denver, said the carrier received dozens of bites all over her body and was still being treated for the injuries nearly five hours after the incident. It was unknown whether any previous complaints had been made against the dogs. The dogs were impounded by Denver County Animal Control Services.

About 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and between 12 and 20 of them die from their injuries. Last year, more than 29,000 reconstructive procedures were attributed to dog bites, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

As part of its awareness campaign, the Postal Service announced Denver is the eighth-ranked U.S. city for dog bites, with 35 last year. Los Angeles was first with 83 bites. Denver, however, has a population of about 601,000 people, compared with 3.8 million in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The U.S. Postal Service states that 5,577 postal workers were bitten in more than 1,400 cities.

Last August a dog owner in Edgewater was fined $780 and lost both of his dogs after they chased a mail carrier onto a neighbor’s porch. One dog was killed in the attack by a Denver police officer. A judge ordered the other to be euthanized.

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