Does this dog look threatening to you?
USPS thinks she is.
My dog is persona non grata with the U.S. Postal Service. She is a grave threat to the health of mail carriers everywhere (at least in some federal bureaucrats mind who’s never even met her). My dog is in the "doghouse" with USPS and I’d like to know why:
I have a kind, gentle yellow Labrador dog named Gede. The dog has never
harmed, threatened or lunged at anyone, let alone a postal carrier. Yesterday, a temporary carrier on my route saw my dog in my front doorway and refused to enter my property to deliver mail. My front door was open and I was close enough to see him outside. Yet he refused to even ask if anyone was home which would’ve allowed me to go outside and pick up the mail from him. I ran after him on the street and got my mail and told the carrier that my dog was harmless, in fact one of the most friendly dogs I’ve ever known. She wouldn’t hurt anyone and in the seven years we’ve lived here never once had any problems. No previous mail carrier had ever felt threatened by our dog nor had any ever refused to deliver the mail.
All the time I was talking to him in a very polite way, he refused to ever look at me. He told me he absolutely refused to deliver mail to my home as long as my dog was there.
I called the local post office (23rd & Union, telephone 328-9712) asking to speak with the postmaster, Juwana Hammonds [not certain the spelling is correct]. She would not speak with me and despite two requests to have her call me, she has not done so (see UPDATE below).
I did speak with two supervisors. I told them I thought it was unfair for the carrier to refuse service. I told them about my dog’s spotless record in relation to postal carriers. I told them that if the carrier was traumatized by dogs (the supervisor suggested that this might be the reason for his refusal to deliver) and even a mild-mannered dog frightened him, then
perhaps he shouldn’t be delivering mail since postal carriers meets scores of dogs on their rounds.
Supervisor Eddie Smith must’ve decided he didn’t like me or what I was saying because at the end of the conversation he told me he was suspending my mail delivery until I came to the station and signed a statement saying I would restrain my dog. When I asked how he could do so without having ever met my dog and without even having a report from a mail carrier saying she was a threat, he replied that this was his prerogative as a postal
This is a totally arbitrary and capricious abuse of postal service regulations to punish a customer a postal service employee doesn’t like. It is not based on any real threat from my dog. When I asked the supervisor whether he would agree to suspend delivery of every resident who did not restrain their dog, he
said no, only me. I would like to know how a federal employee is allowed to apply the regulations to a customer in such a prejudicial fashion and without any evidence whatsoever that the dog is a real threat?
If you’re a Seattle blogger who doesn’t like to see federal employees abusing their position for the sake of their own personal dislike of a customer; or if you’re dog owner or dog lover and you don’t like seeing dogs stereotyped as "dangerous" by an arbitrary postal service regulations; or if you just plain don’t like to see the little guy trampled upon–please either call the postal station postmaster at the above phone number or call Katherine Nash, the Seattle postmaster at 442-6170 and tell her you don’t like how their employees treat the public.
I just spoke with the district supervisor who oversees my local station and worked out a compromise by which I will install a mail box on my perimeter fence in order to adhere to postal service rules. Shortly after, the local postmaster called to say she wanted to work things out amicably and would personally deliver my mail tomorrow and have a chat. She said that after our chat she would resume my mail delivery. I told her I wanted her to meet my dog so that she would not feel that her employees were in any danger from her. What I didn’t say to her was–why couldn’t you have called me yesterday when I asked for you two separate times so we could’ve had today’s conversation yesterday and avoided all the sturm und drang that happened in between.
And to top it all off, as I was speaking to her by phone the mail carrier drove by, stopped and–guess what–delivered my mail. The front door was open and the dog was unrestrained. Go figua’!
My conversation with the district supervisor, while conciliatory, distressed me when he explained postal regulations pertaining to dogs. ANY unrestrained dog WITHIN a homeower’s property is considered an imminent threat. ALL mail carriers who see such a dog are not allowed to deliver mail to such a residence. And if the carrier does deliver mail and doesn’t report an unrestrained dog they are violating postal regulations and may be disciplined for doing so. He said that every previous mail carrier to my residence who did not report my unrestranied dog was liable for disciplinary action. I told him: "does it make sense to punish postal employees who’ve maintained excellent relations with me and my dog over the seven years we’ve lived in this house because they haven’t enforced a regulation? I also told him that if those carriers were disciplined for this incident I would be very upset.
The supervisor explained the reasons for this procedure: mail carriers have been mauled by dogs which previous carriers had befriened. By not reporting the dog, the original carrier created a hazard for the second carrier. These carriers are punished for their actions, etc.
While I certainly sympathize with postal carriers who are injured by dogs and acknowledge there are dogs who are dangerous, I think it is entirely unreasonable to say that EVERY dog is a potential threat. When mail carriers are harrassed, threatened, assaulted, robbed or God forbid shot by human beings, do we say that every person in the neighborhood, city or nation will be treated as if they’re a potential threat? No, of course not. We prosecute bad individuals and do not brand the entire species as a threat. So why do we treat dogs this way? Dogs are entitled to the same break we give people.
The supervisor also told me that Eddie Smith did not need to have a report from a carrier that my dog was a threat. Based only on my telling him my dog was unrestrained, he was obliged to suspend my mail. I don’t know about you–but I think this is an example of rules and regulations imposed arbitrarily my some USPS lawyer concerned about liability issues. Where is common sense? Where is treating the customer fairly?
I’m glad that this was resolved, but I’m still troubled by the lack of flexibility and the arbitrariness of postal regulations concerning dogs.
Cute dog. And yes it sounds pretty arbitrary. Years ago in my neighborhood there was a family with a bulldog. The same mailman had been coming by for decades and every day he brought a treat for that dog. When the mailman retired there was an article in the paper about it and the article told the story about the friendship between this mailman and the bulldog. It was a very heartwarming story.
Tony Bishop says
I warmly recommend you do a little more research on this subject. My son, then 7, was badly mauled by a friend’s 8 year old Golden Labrador, a dog my son interacted with at least twice a week without any problems. The wounds required 28 stitches and has left ugly scars on his legs. As required by New Zealand law the dog was put down.
The dog had never exhibited any aggresion in all its 8 years, and was the epitome of the family pet. My son had not annoyed the dog. A very sad incident all round.
My research since this incident has revealed:
ALL dogs are pack animals, and pet dogs see the owners family as its pack.
ALL dogs MAY at any time, for no apparent human-discernable reason decide the pack, or member of that pack, is under threat and attack that threat.
The Dog Training Assoc in New Zealand, and I believe the US, strongly recommends NEVER entering a property where there is an unrestrained dog, and our postal,courier, meter reading people and the like are not allowed to enter such property.
Richard Silverstein says
First, let me say to Tony how terribly I feel for what you & your son suffered. You are right that Golden Retrievers (is that the breed you meant as I don’t believe there is a Golden Labrador breed?) are generally considered safe & friendly & I’m sure you were shocked by its behavior given its past good temperament. Just curious, do you know whether the dog had had any type of training as a puppy? This is essential to maintain discipline when a dog gets in a situation where it might “lose it.” Our dog has undergone intensive training.
I understand that fr. yr. pt. of view no matter how much training my dog or any dog gets you don’t trust the dog. I understand that you feel your judgment is correct & incontrovertible & I understand why you feel this way. But it’s not the way I feel. And you needn’t suggest that I do more research on the subject as I’ve read many books & articles about dog behavior. In addition, our dog was trained by a nationally recognized expert on dog behavior who’s written a book & video recommended by the Monks of New Skeet, themselves famous dog breeders.
Everything you said about dogs being pack animals & their being capable of attacking someone for no apparent reason holds true for human beings as well. Yet we don’t judge all human beings for the crimes of abnormal ones. I’d ask the same consideration for dogs.
Tony Bishop says
Richard you are of course right about the breed – Golden retreiver it was. The dog was well-trained from puppy and had never exhibited aggresion to strangers in anyway, only ever barking at strangers at night, and then rarely.
My ex-wife and I had a well-trained Bullmastif, often cited as an agressive dog, but we had no problems with her in the 9 years we had her – but if a strange man( and only a man) came to the door, our dog would not let the man get between her and my wife, or children.
I once as part of a training course had to make home visits to do market research questionairs, I was bailed up so often by dogs, I would not go on a property until the dog was restrained. Twice I was attacked by dogs inside the house!
I fully agree with you that it is so sad that all dogs suffer because of the ‘sins’ of a few agressive dogs, and also agree that that most of the problem arise from out-of-control dogs. I am a proponent of licensing dog-owners instead of the dog, and licensing entails passing some sort of test.
I do have sympathy for your stance, but I also belive that delivery people in the widest sense need to be very cautious indeed when there is an unrestrained dog on the property they are trying to enter. I for one would no longer contemplate it.
I agree that situation with your dog was messy. I am a postal employee and see carriers come in with dog bites more than you can imagine.
I am also an animal lover and know there are some dogs who wouldn’t hurt a flea, and your dog seems to be that type of dog.
The carrier may have been previously disciplined for being bitten by a dog, and in that case he was probably just trying to protect his livelihood/job. If a dog runs out a door (merely greeting a carrier) and a carrier attempts to sidestep the dog, twisting an ankle or falling, the carrier will be written up, suspened without pay, or terminated. It is an ugly situation for all involved.
In a similar situation, my father who was a carrier for 37 years was stung by a bee. You guessed it, he was reprimanded and had to go to the union to fight a 10 day suspension without pay. This was the first time he was stung, and it was after 30years of service, and a million miles of driving without an accident.
The carrier probably did not want management to treat you so harshly. Management at the postal service relys on intimidation and threats. They are mostly uneducated and the only way they know how to get things done is the ol’ “crack the whip” method. They lack leadership skills and have no desire to gain any leadership or people skills.
I wish you luck in the future, but remember how the postal service management treated you…. they treat employees ten times worse.
I recently started a blog about postal life. Check it out at http://postalemployeelifesucks.blogspot.com
I just received the notice from my post office about my Lab. We were out washing the cars earlier than the mailman usually comes by. It was very annoying to think how inflexible the Post Office is, but these messages put it in a different light, and it sounds reasonable.
But without these explanations, and knowing my mailman as I do, I was just assuming he was one who takes advantage of the position. He has found excuses for not delivering mail before. It was very amusing to watch him run away like a little girl when my dog came out to check him out, and the whole neighborhood calls him “Newman.”
On the other hand, my lab’s littermate seriously injured an older woman who was walking her little dog. So go figure. I’m over it now. I’ll give Newman a little more room.