TURN TO TED: Mail delivery back in neighborhood where carrier scared off by loose dog

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houstonians on a block in Denver Harbor lost their mail delivery for weeks after the Post Office cut them off in a dog dispute.

They were forced to drive miles away to pick up the mail in person at the Denver Harbor Post Office. After one of those drives, a fed up senior who needs his mail at the house Turned to Ted.

Jesse Salazar has three dogs, but he says they're never a bother to the mailman or anyone else on the street. Standing behind his 6-foot tall gate topped with barbed wire, Salazar told ABC13's Ted Oberg, "This gate is never unlocked unless we're going in and out."

The U.S. Postal Service told ABC13 somewhere on Salazar's block of Victoria Street, the mail carrier was nervous about a loose dog. ABC13 didn't see it on our visit, but did see some potential trouble spots. It was enough for the Post Office to cut off mail service to the whole block for weeks.

"This last time, it was turned off for about two weeks," Salazar told us.

Salazar's son, Jesse Jr., who lives with his dad, showed us the letter the Post Office sent. It read, "Delivery Service may be temporarily withdrawn when animals interfere with our ability to complete mail delivery."

Jesse, Jr. had to drive his dad to the Denver Harbor Post Office miles away several times a week.

For many people in the age of online bills and communication, losing daily mail delivery may not seem like a big deal. But like many people his age, Jesse Sr. doesn't do the internet. His bills come to him on paper. Important reminders for things like doctor's appointments do, too. It's stuff he needs.

After Jesse's daughter Turned to Ted, we called the Post Office. A spokesperson told us they were "working with the customers in the community to resolve the issue" and make sure "the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained."

Salazar says the day after we called, a postal inspector came with letters for all the neighbors to sign, promising to keep the dogs locked up. That appears to have been the trick.

"After your office called the Post Office, this person come over here to investigate," Salazar told ABC13.

Since then, he says, "The mail had been coming in every day."

In a statement, Kanickewa "Nikki" Johnson, the USPS Strategic Communications Specialist for our area told ABC13:

"The safety of our carriers is of paramount concern to the Postal Service. The Postal Service highlights safety initiatives and provides employees with ongoing dog bite awareness training. Each year, we participate in National Dog Bite Prevention Week and release dog attack statistics from the previous year. Nationwide, in 2018 nearly 6,000 carriers suffered dog bites. In the city of Houston, 75 bites were suffered last year.

In this instance, local management at the Denver Harbor Post Office are working with the customers in the community to resolve the issue. Postal Service guidelines provide for various solutions to the issue of loose dogs, which could include temporary suspension of delivery. We consider all actions on a case-by-case basis. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained. If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well. A letter was sent to approximately 7 impacted customers, indicating a temporary disruption of service and asking the pet owner's neighbors to pick up their mail at the Post Office. The Postal Service always seeks to restore mail delivery as quickly as possible, as long as our carriers can do so safely. We strongly encourage dog owners to restrain their dogs and allow the carriers to deliver the mail safely.

The reality is any dog can bite and postal management must take immediate action when there is any threat to our employees. For more information regarding Dog Bite Prevention, visit about.usps.com-dog-bite-awareness."


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