Hopkinsville City Council learned about the new PAWS initiative that the regional United States Postal Service plans to roll out in as early as next week, starting with Hopkinsville.
As part of the PAWS intiative, local mail carriers will post a yellow or orange sticker on mailboxes across the city to indicate homes with dogs. Yellow means a dog lives nearby and orange means a dog lives at the residence.
USPS Kentuckiana District Safety Manager Alan C. Lewis said the program was created to add an additional level of safety awareness to USPS employees, its customers and public service organizations.
According to USPS statistics, 6,755 employees were attacked and bitten across the country in 2019. Eighty of those bites happened in Kentuckiana, Lewis noted, and the one of the worst happened in Hopkinsville in March.
Hopkinsville letter carrier Jill Cooper was bit in the leg area March 25 by a pit bull that another woman was allegedly harboring, according to New Era archives. Cooper was ultimately flown to Skyline Medical Center for her injuries that day, and the pit bull was seized by Hopkinsville Animal Control.
Cooper told the council at Tuesday's meeting that she is recovering but will be forever scarred by the attack.
"Physically, I am healing," she said. "I had five reconstructive surgeries to go through because too much tissue and nerves were torn from my calf on March 25. I will only have 89% strength in my calf, and I will have numbness in my calf and ankle for the rest of my life.
"Mentally, I struggled," she continued. "Every time I hear a dog barking, my heart races and I panic looking for an escape from possible danger."
Cooper said the most disheartening part is the charges of harboring a vicious animal were dropped against Debra Alexander, the woman whose mail Cooper was delivering when she was attacked, "due to the fact that when I was attacked I was not on the street but on the front lawn of where she resided."
"After this news, I worry for not only my fellow mail carriers but also FedEX, UPS, meter readers, pizza delivery and city workers who step on the lawns every day to do their jobs," Cooper said.
Lewis said the stickers do not indicate vicious animals or that attack is possible.
"It does not indicate that your dog has attacked anyone," he said. "It's just a simple fact that there is a dog at he house."
Lewis went on to say it is up to carriers to put the stickers on mailboxes along their route. Local residents will receive a post card in the next week or so explaining the intitiative. Residents can object to a sticker being placed on their mailbox by calling 502-473-4220 and it will be removed.
Lewis asked pet owners to not only participate in the free program but to be responsible with their animals when they know their mail is being delivered.
"Think about your firefighters or police officers who might need to provide service for you," he said. "That (sticker) at least gives them another level of safety to know that there is a dog at that house."
In other business:
- Kentucky Youth Assembly Governor Livi Ray was recognized for being elected by her peers to serve in the top KYA position. Ray is a student at Hopkinsville Middle School and is the second HMS student in a row to be elected KYA governor.
- The council approved on second reading the city to pursue ownership and maintenance of the Elb Cemetery on Hazel Street.
- The council passed on second reading an amendment to the 2019-2020 capital budget to fully fund construction of the Hopkinsville Fire Training Center.
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.