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.