Going Postal

Postal WorkerThe U.S. Post Office and dogs have a special relationship and one that is not unlike that of police agencies and the general public.  In both cases, service is provided to many people on a daily basis, and some bad incidents threaten to wreck it for everyone else.

Recently, a dog attacked a letter carrier in the 100 block of Montana Street in Rapid City.  There was apparently an information exchange between the Post Office and the Humane Society over the incident, as there should have been.  This is certainly not the first time a dog went after a letter carrier in our city.

Montana Street was constructed in the 1950s and many of the houses are occupied by homeowners.  Many of those are elderly with one in his 90s, at least two in their 80s, one of which is blind.

On November 8th a letter was sent to all residents of the 100 block, informing them that they would no longer receive mail to their home mail receptacle, and that they could pick up their mail at the post office.  Eventually, a community mail box will be placed on that block so that everyone will be required to walk down the block to get their mail.  Problem solved.  Have an employee who was treated badly?  Stop the service.  I get employee safety and I don’t condone vicious dogs, but to punish the ENTIRE block?  Click here to read the Post Office Letter

Imagine if the police did this.  We would have at least 90% of the city to which we would no longer provide a response.  We could send them a letter stating since we had a bad experience, they can report their crimes to the front desk at the police department.  Crimes in progress?  Not our problem – after all our employees are #1.  The customer is #last.

Come to think of it, the Post Office/dog relationship is not like that of the police and the general public.

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About chiefsview

Former police chief. Opinionated, yet sarcastic.
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31 Responses to Going Postal

  1. Madonna says:

    Been there, done that. My sons’ dog jumped out a 2nd story window and landed on the mail carrier. He didn’t bite the carrier, but it sure scared them both! We got a letter from the PO and didn’t get mail for a few days. We were given the option of taking the dog out of the house for a couple months. When he returned, he was ALWAYS crated during the day. My neighbors would have been up in arms if my block were denied delivery, or made to use a central box. Sounds like an easy solution for the PO… but there maybe more to this story– there usually is.

  2. Peter Ragnone says:

    Unfortunately, we have low expectations of the government and in particular, government services. And just when you think the government has reached their lowest point, they set a new standard. Apparently we can no longer say the Post Office has “gone to the dogs.”

  3. They should have let the police deal with the dog owner, first. I feel very bad for the elders that have to travel to get their mail. The post office is just wrong, here.

  4. Larry says:

    Wow for a service that cant make ends meet they sure are arrogant.So he was bit next time ask the people to keep their dog inside when he comes.Geez your right punish innocent because of one that’s guilty.

  5. Sunny Summer says:

    This isn’t the first incident in that neighborhood involving a canine and a postal carrier. This is called due process, since pet owners up and down that block choose to not keep their animals restrained and/or properly trained. Mail carriers have the right to remain safe in their workplace, even if that workplace isn’t on government property. I’m not convinced the plight for the elderly “mistreatment” going on here is valid, since they choose not be good Rapid City pet owners in the first place. Yes, those houses are occupied by homeowners, but they are the same homeowners that have been warned many times throughout the years that this WOULD happen if they did not fix the problem themselves. The post office has rules and regulations in place for these types of incidents because otherwise America would choose to look the other way purely in the spirit of sparing the elderly from following the rules. Unfortunately, these centralized mail boxes will be popping up more often in town if Rapid Citians keep believing that they are above the law. Seniority does not give you the right to bend the rules, it gives you a right to set a better example for everyone else. But that’s a whole different can of worms… Thanks for bringing this issue to light, Chief. I am a firm believer in constructive debate among fellow citizens.

    • chiefsview says:

      Thanks Sunny. This incident revolves around one dog and two incidents. ALL of the other neighbors are innocent and have not contributed to their circumstances. The whole point is, in the information and technology age, there has to be other options than walking off the job and depriving 15 houses a service they’ve received for the last 60 years via a condescending letter.

  6. John Ashley says:

    I couldn’t agree anymore, with what the Chief said. It all starts from the top, and trickles down to the employees. John Ashley

  7. Sunny Summer says:

    Also: as an officer of the law, you have the right to use force (including deadly weapons) against an animal that has become uncooperative and poses a serious physical threat to you or the other citizens in your immediate area. Postal employees, especially mail carriers, don’t have that right. They could possibly use pepper spray and/or physical force to stop the attack, but they are unable to carry a firearm while on the clock (correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe those are the current rules concerning firearms and postal employees that run city routes). Comparing the police department to the post office in this situation, even though both agencies are part of the U.S. government, is unrealistic and unrelated to the situation involving Montana St. That’s just my opinion though. =)

  8. Colleen says:

    Obviously there is more to this story than what has been published. Was this the first incidence with this dog? How severe was the attack? Was the dog owner asked to remove the dog? If he is unwilling to remove the dog then let the blame be laid on him not the post office. What if this dog attacked a child passing by? What if the dog attacked a police officer would the police department have more power to remove the dog? I believe that before we start attacking the victim and his employer -in this case a mailman, maybe we ought to get all the facts. How else can the post office protect their employees and how can the city protect it’s citizens from vicious dogs with owners who can’t control their dogs. I love dogs but there is no excuse for vicious dogs that attack anyone.

    • Larry says:

      In a sense you are ight the postman should have the right to be safe in his job.And if it was the same dog twice then that needs to be dealt with.But punishing innocent people by not delivering their mail is downright ignorant.Its kinda like taking peoples guns because someone somewhere shot msomeone.Or taking m y drivers lic because my neighbor was in a accident makes no sense whatsoever.I have been bit several times over the years but didn t pun ish mthe persons neighbors for ikt.

  9. Peter says:

    Chief,

    First, I am 100% shocked at your title ! Do you find it funny to use a title referring to incidents of the post office’s past where people have been shot and killed ? Should I title my response after something sick like your officers gunned down in Rapid City , or how about calling it Sandy Hooked or Columbined ? Absolutely not ! I used those harsh examples to show you how incredibly wrong you are and hopefully when the Mayor gets a hold of this, there will be a search for a new Chief of Police !

    In regards to the incident, I’ll give you a bit of my background. I used to be a temporary letter carrier in your city and I know that route you speak of well. So well that I recall a few instances, actually FIVE to be exact ! I can almost be I know the exact address of the animal that bit the postal carrier as they have been warned numerous times. Each time my supervision was notified of these dangerous animals and the normal letter carrier even has cards they insert in the mail to warn temporary carriers of these dangerous animals.

    Chief , you do realize that this is the same area as Grandview Elementary School , the same area where your officers had to gun down a dog that nearly attacked a child on crutches and did attack a teacher, right ? Do you also realize that before this incident, those dogs came after a postal carrier in that same neighborhood ? That would be incident six, one more than the five I am talking about.

    Someone here hit it on the head, we only carry pepper spray as letter carriers, you have weapons from Asps, Tazers and service pistol. Being the Chief you should also know that OC pepper spray only works on 50% of the animals. So Chief, when we call the animal control officer and they don’t show till 5 hours later, what do we do ? When we call the humane society and we leave a message, never hearing back from them, what do we do ? Lord knows your officers won’t come out unless something horrible happens, so what do we do ? How about we shut down the mail, this should piss off the citizens so much that perhaps they will take it into their own hands to rise up against the neighbors who are breaking the law, because Chief it is unlawful to not leash your animals and they must be kept under control. Don’t blame the post office, we get pushed aside as an after thought, that is until your mail stops. You sir are “barking” up the wrong tree here, YOU, the NEIGHBORS and OTHERS, should rise up and keep your damn animals locked up so those that need to come to your doors as part of their duties can do so safely. Chief, go take a walk one day, down Montana, Oak, Grandview, Wisconsin, Cypress, (not in your car, doing a roll by), but walk and see how many dogs go nuts at your presence. Then understand that we postal carriers walk that route everyday.

    I feel for those folks and the situations that you describe with their conditions, but I am not getting mauled by an animal that should be controlled and with the little backing that we receive from your dept’s services.

    Lastly, when you talk to the Mayor and you will if I have my way about this. Ask him about the time that there was two officers outside of his house because of an alarm and he was out of town. Ask about those officers coming to my aid as I passed his house and a dog came from 5 houses down at the site of me to try and attack me . Ask those officers who I screamed for and if they came out with Tazer out and Asp in hand and if the dog stood his ground to even them. See if they will tell you if the dog had any fear. Ask them about having to chase that dog around two blocks before finally trapping him in the fenced back yard of a homeowner nearby. My point here, is that this incident all started with the mailman and for once law enforcement was on scene to do something about it. That’s 1% out of all the times we face these animals in your city that are UNCONTROLLED ! FYI, I didn’t get the names of the officers as they were to busy chasing this dog, but one was female, that should narrow it down for you to verify my story.

    • Larry says:

      Wow didn’t realize how bad it was.The mail people do have it hard and its true there are laws.Laws that are constantly broken when it comes to dogs pets etc.Maybe the story has not been told.

  10. chiefsview says:

    Peter: You are probably right about the insensitive title. I remember some of the dog incidents you bring up and I am well aware letter carriers have a tough job. In my facebook post I mentioned that this was not the fault of the letter carrier. Dogs are a problem and have been for a long time. Our officers get bit every year. Dozens of officers are injured for various reasons each year and employee safety is a top priority for us, so I am sympathetic to the effort to protect employees. There just HAS to be a better solution than depriving 15 homes of a service they have received for 60 years, because of a dog that lives at one of those addresses. The homeowners have no recourse.

  11. Bill says:

    From my undestanding of the dog problem and I live close the house with the dog that bites.. SOMEBODY has to go to Animal Control and sign a complaint against the dog owner and it has taken OVER 30 fot the Post Office Carrier to do this after serveral calls to PO to get it done.. WE home owners can NOT remove this dog with out running amuck of the law. The owner of this dog has an utter disregard for the safety of others and the longer the dog stays on this block the more likley some body else will get bit,.There are a lot of small childern that pass that house every day going and coming from school. I can see stopping mail deliver to the house where the dog lives, but stoping mail to 14 house,, two full city blocks on account of one dog is a case of OVERKILL. To punish all of those people is just not right, One of those home owners is blind , One is all most 88 years old and the line at the P.O. is gettingl longer each day .if the dog attacks me and I go into the house and get a pistol and shoot the dog. I sure as hell will get in trouble with my friend the .Chief, He will say there is a better way, OK lets find a better way to solve this matter, Someby give us an answere as to HOW to do it legaly ..

  12. Bill says:

    Point for you to chew on., IT is not US Elderly who own that dog..Do you think for one second a PETITION is going to do the trick . NO Like you say DUE PROCESS and that means FOLLOW THE LAWS of RAPID CITY . ANIMAL CONROL has to pick up that dag AFTER due process. A
    COMPLAINT is first step of this process..

  13. Jenna says:

    I would just like to clarify to those who question. Someone’s feelings about what should happen is not always what the law allows. How many times did a “crime” happen to you and you felt the outcome was unjust. Maybe the officer wasn’t able to satisfy what you felt was the right thing to do. Let’s all just realize that there is basically only black an white when it comes to the letter of the law. No grey. Unfortunately for the citizens of that street that do not have pets they will suffer for the post offices decision. Now let’s point out some facts. Animal control did as the law permitted them in this bite case. When am animal bite report is turned in, as stated in the law, all of the owner, victim an most importantly the animals details are collected. Then the pet is place on a 10 day quarantine to observe for the rabies virus. At the discretion of the officer the pet may be quarantined at home if the dog is current on rabies and IF it happens on its own property. Then lastly the pet is seen by a vet to check for any symptoms the dog might have for the rabies virus. A final call is made to the victim letting them know they are cleared from potentially having contracted the virus at the time the bite occurred, the bite report is closed out. As stated in the law animal control must be notified in writing under oath that they are requesting a potentially dangerous investigation. Which in this case the owner and the neighborhood now know, has been finally started. Animal control has knocked on every door in two blocks collecting statements about this dogs history. Unfortunately there is little history on this dog ever. Wether it be the case of a neighbor not wanting to stir up trouble or just not be a ” nosey” neighbor who knows the real answer. So, there is an extreme lack of reported incidents from several agencies. As in the Rottweiler attacking the teacher, there was never any reported past incidents. The law states there are three different defined labels that can given a pet after the investigation is completed. Dangerous, potentially dangerous and neither. Dangerous animal means they have severely attacked, mauled or killed another and are an extreme risk to the community. Potentially dangerous is a simple as it sounds potentially. ONLY when found dangerous is the animal seized and destroyed. If the decision is appealed by the owner a board is selected and they review the evidence and make the final decision. In this state taking someone dog is like taking a loud truck or stereo system. All are considered someone’s property. As far as the records show there has never been a case of the post office ever stopping mail to a neighborhood only one specific house.
    I feel that the post office has went a little to far on this one. I feel that a letter carrier also has the right to defend their own and should be allowed to carry necessary equipment that helps them be safe in the nature of their position.

    • Larry says:

      Sounds like pets in City limits should be against the law.I don’t see why it is lawful anyway.Its not good for the Dog or anyone else.

  14. Peter says:

    Chief,

    Neither does the Post Office. I have been gone from Rapid City and the postal service for 6 months now and I can say with 100% certainty that I could take a map of the streets I have named and circle each house with aggressive/dangerous dogs. This should the sign of the mental trauma I have faced in that neighborhood alone and I was not bitten. What about the carrier that was bitten, think of her trauma. In regards to the people in the neighborhood that would be the most effected by this course of action, I know of the ones you speak of, again I can still recall the houses. But what is our recourse if owners are not being held responsible for their animals ? The middle ground here is not to take up the offensive against the post office in my opinion, the common ground here has to come through enforcement of the law. People don’t respond to a letter from the post office saying “we had a problem with your dog, please make sure they are on a leash and secured” , they sadly respond through fines, criminal charges, court appearances and impounding the dog. That’s my opinion and by the way, identifying that the title was insensitive is a start , but he apology to those you jabbed at through this sort of a title still remains.

  15. Sunny Summer says:

    As this post gets more views, I’m sure more people with USPS rules and legality knowledge will be commenting with more reasons that point to the post office’s action being justified, but that’s not my point here. My point is: if these innnocent neighbors are being punished for something they did not do, why have they condoned this animal behavior in their neighborhood for all these years? As I am sure the entire neighborhood is not 100% legally blind, they all have seen, heard and even witnessed the bad pet owners on the block continuously break the rules (pertaininng to keeping pets leashed or inside a fence). With that being said, obviously nothing has been done before the post office made their decision, since there is a lengthy process for ANY decision that comes from the USPS. It NEVER happens overnight in a situation like this, there always has to be a process that involves multiple complaints in a certain time period and warning post cards and the police must be called if there is a physical attack on a postal employee by both humans or animals. Plus the higher ups must all sign off on any sort of change to the route, and usually must have a regional director’s signature as well. There has to be a paper trail, the lengthy approval process must be followed precisely, and only when a viable threat is obvious will they act, like they did in this case. This neighborhood has had plenty of time to create a Neighborhood Watch, they’ve had opportunities to file a complaint against bad pet owners, and they definitely have the power to walk to these bad neighbors and talk with them about fixing the nomadic animal problem that plagues almost every neighborhood in Rapid City. However, the fact that ONLY the USPS had to come up with a remedy to this ongoing situation leads me to believe that NONE of the Montana St. homeowners want to take control of their neighborhood’s safety. Therefore they need to suck it up and deal with the consequences of their inaction. If the consequence is negative, they should have considered that while they’ve watched/heard these incidents go on for the last 20 years. In my north side neighborhood, if ai see something that is unsafe for me and the other residents on our dead-end street by the railroad tracks, I do something about it. I call Animal Control when there is a stray animal that shows signs of agression towards me or my children. If there is a belligerent drunk dude yelling at his girl in the middle of my street, I call the police and keep my eye on the situation until RCPD arrives. If there’s a party that’s way too loud and going on past 10pm, I’ll knock on the door first before I resort to calling the police. In other words, I am an active Rapid Citian doing my part to combat the anti-neighborhood activites that threaten our safety and properties. It looks like the people on Montana Street need to step up their involvement in their neighborhood THEMSELVES, if they don’t want yet another government agency making decisions for them, in the name of safety. =)

  16. Curious says:

    Would this even be an issue for the RCPD if the Chief’s father didn’t live on that block?

    • chiefsview says:

      My father does live on that block, but this is not a RCPD issue. The complaints came into the Mayor’s office who referred them to the Humane Society. Since the issue involved an entire block of residents, one of our Lieutenants has been attempting to mediate the dealings between the Post Office and the Humane Society. I didn’t share my opinion of the issue for two weeks after it started.

  17. Prez says:

    Just to add a little clarity,

    1)the mail carrier was severely hurt (maybe partially disabled ?) last I talked to him he could hardly hold onto a glass of water with his hand.

    2) The mail was stopped because the dog comes out of the yard and has been returned to the owner by the humane society.

    So before you conclude the PO over-reacted look at the whole picture, had dog been removed, mail service would have resumed

    • Prez says:

      Also keep in mind, the end of “door to door” delivery has been proposed more than once lately as a money saving measure. Dogs or no dogs, I am guessing that change is in the future for most of the public anyways.

  18. Bill says:

    It looks like people are trying to say RCPD is taking sides in this matter..As I see the Chief and I have know him since he was a kid. He has a right to his opinion just like all of you who do not live on this street . He is a good Police officer and runs a DAM fine Police Dept and he is tring to look out for all the people on Montana Street who are affected by this Dog thing and the PO making a over reach on stopping mail delivery to such a large amount of homes To curious i will say this is an ISSUE no matter who lives on this block, We are getting set up by PO for a CLUSTER Box all because of ONE dog.. , Did you see the coverage by KOTA News TOP STORY of the day.So now we have one more who thinks it is a bum deal. CONGRATULAIONS TO KOTA,
    RAPID CITY JOURNAL would you like to add a few words in your newspaper???
    Sunny were you suggesting the we (homeowners) go ring the dog owners dorr bell and tell him we demande you get ride of your dog/ I bet that would go over great/ You would be mortifed if while you are in act of making demands ,one of those nice shiney Black and White cars come to run you off of PRIVATE PROPERTY. .You would have same feeling asfter you stepped into some fresh Cat dodo and wander how an i going to get it of my shoe with out getting it on my hands !!!

  19. Bill says:

    HOPE YOU ALL HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING DAY

  20. Bill says:

    READ THE FRONT PAGE OF THE RC Journal Today 11/29 Tells it all

  21. Julie says:

    I agree that the title was insensitive, and appreciate your apology.

    I agree that it is not fair to punish many residents for the action ( or in this case inaction) of one dog owner. Refusing to deliver mail to the entire area should not be an option. As for installing cluster mailboxes, that is the coming thing. I look for more and more neighborhoods to have to stop at a central box, and less and less door-to-door deliveries as the USPS continues to cut their budget.

    This issue should be resolved by following the letter of the law. Rapid City has laws on the books regarding roaming animals. I don’t have the resources available to check the exact wording, but I do remember something along the lines of a “three strikes” rule, where eventually the dog is removed from the owner’s custody when it is continually allowed to run free…especially when it is aggressive to humans. Whether Animal Control or RCPD handles the calls is immaterial. SOMEONE should be calling in authorities to handle this EVERY time there is an incident until the dog is removed or consistently and securely confined.

    As to “Curious,” REALLY? Unless the Chief’s father is biting the mailman, why bring this up at all? He deserves the same protection as any other citizen, regardless of who his son is!

    • Curious says:

      It’s a conflict of interest issue. While I don’t think the Chief did anything wrong, I do think he should have been up front with his readers and disclosed his personal connection to the case. I did appreciate his response to my post clarifying the situation. But why not just be up front about it to begin with?

      • chiefsview says:

        You could be right ‘Curious’. The reason I did not consider it a conflict of interest, is that my father did not stand to benefit from it. Also, no laws were enforced etc. I understand your point and appreciate your feedback.

  22. Larry says:

    In the end someone was hurt seems we always overlook that when these thing happen.And I have been bitten by dogs in the past it does hurt a lot most of the time sometimes they give ya a nip is all.
    Anyway the po can do anything it wants and in some ways I understand.they pay ins for the people that deliver the mail a dog bites someone ins goes up post person has a claim etc etc all over a dog bite.Perhaps overreaction isn’t the weay to handle this but I do see their point also.

  23. Bill says:

    WELL what do you know.!!! Some contractor types were digging on the coner of Grandview and Montana .. Looks like start of a CLUSTER BOX!!! Looks like USPS had this in mind all along. and are going to have it thier way no matter who is put out.. Will be awhile till they can pour concret COLD and FREEZING not good for cement. I wonder if a Senator (Thune) can slow this down or stop it. We will see !!!! Join in The more noise made more likley to listen ????

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