March 28, 2013

Dog stops delivery of mail to one block in Wichita

Dogs may not always be a mail carrier’s best friends, but one dog has stopped door-to-door delivery to an entire block in west Wichita

Dogs may not always be a mail carrier’s best friends, but one dog has stopped door-to-door delivery to an entire block in west Wichita

The U.S. Postal Service has notified residents in the 200 block of Joann that because a dog was loose in the neighborhood and threatened postal workers on several occasions, they had to change the way they receive their mail.

In a letter dated Friday, the USPS gave residents 10 days to rent a post office box, install a mailbox at the curb, or submit a change of address and have mail forwarded to a different location. Meanwhile, they will have to pick up their mail at the downtown station at 330 W. Second St., the letter said.

Neighbors think it’s unfair the whole block has to change its delivery system.

“We have been told there is no recourse, and that makes me a little bit upset because I don’t feel we were given the opportunity to do anything about it,” said David Rothenberger, a resident on the block who also is its Neighborhood Watch captain.

Scott White, USPS supervisor of customer service at the downtown station, said the problem with the dog has been ongoing.

“We have had multiple issues on that particular block over the last four months,” he said.

A March 12 letter from the USPS asked residents for their cooperation in resolving the issue and warned of the potential change in their mail delivery. That letter said the dog was loose on March 8 and had been loose several times in the past. It said service already had been suspended to one neighbor because of an incident with the dog.

“Unrestrained dogs represent a very serious threat that can not be tolerated,” the March 12 letter said. “The Postal Service has an obligation to provide a safe work environment for all employees. We take this commitment very seriously.”

The postal service didn’t tell the residents which dog was causing the problems, or where it lived. White also declined to give that information in an interview with the Eagle. He said the dog had not bitten a mail carrier.

Rothenberger said he thinks he knows which dog it is, but, he said, that dog has never been a threat to anyone.

He described the dog it as a large mixed breed that looks intimidating. But its owner has told him mail carriers have petted the dog in the past and even given it biscuits, he said.

“We never had a problem with the dog,” Rothenberger said. “I’ve never seen anybody having problems with it.”

The backyard of the house where the dog lives is fenced, and the owner is with it whenever it is outside, he said.

Rothenberger said the dog’s owner told him she’s already visited postal authorities several times and told them the dog would remain inside or in the backyard when mail is delivered. He said he has asked her to write that in a letter to the postmaster, and she told him she is willing to do that.

The dog’s owner couldn’t be reached by the Eagle for comment.

White said the dog’s owner wrote a statement to the station manager that she no longer had the dog, but that statement turned out to be false.

“That’s been proven not to be the case, because the dog has been out since then,” he said.. “Friday, the dog was out again and we were unable to deliver the mail, and that was kind of the last straw.”

Rothenberger said he had read the March 12 letter, but since it didn’t identify where the dog lived and nothing happened afterward, he assumed the problem had been taken care of.

Rothenberger, who is 70 and retired, wrote a letter to the USPS on Tuesday objecting to the suspension of service. It is an older neighborhood that can take of its own problems and doesn’t want to lose door-to-door service, he wrote.

White said the block on Joann is not the first block in the city where residents had to convert their mail delivery service because of a similar situation. And the conversions are permanent, he said.

“That’s our policy,” White said. “Once we’ve changed the mode of delivery we can’t change it back.”

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