Postal worker allegedly used dog repellent because she 'feared for her life'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Ashley Vasquez loves corgis. In fact, she met her boyfriend through a corgi club. He has one, too.

She said, "I love that they're short. I'm short, clumsy. These dogs are short and clumsy. It's the perfect match for me."

Saturday at about 11 a.m., Vasquez says her parents were in their front yard with her corgi, Dean Woofchester, when the mail carrier arrived. She says it was a substitute carrier for the person who normally handles their route.

Dean barked. Vasquez said, "My mom called him back and said to the mail carrier, 'He's harmless. He's not going to hurt you, he's not going to bite you, he just wants to know who you are.'"

She says the woman looked at her mom, then Dean as he approached her and took dog repellent out of her pocket, spraying him right in the face.

Vasquez says Dean began to cry, rolling in the grass from the pain in his eyes. Then she says her dad asked the carrier why she did it.

"She said I feared for my life, sir, so I can do what I want. Then she asked do you want your mail or not. Then my mom said yes, otherwise this entire situation was for naught," said Vasquez.

She added, "I understand she was doing her job, I really do. But I feel like if dogs aren't your thing, this is probably not the profession for you."

Dean had a special event coming up that night -- Corgi Races at Sam Houston Race Park. While they are for fun it was something Vasquez had been looking forward to.

"It was something fun I wanted to do with him and I was really upset he wasn't going to be able to participate," said Vasquez.

After getting Dean's eyes washed out, talking to a vet and getting some rest, he was able to participate in Saturday night's race. He even won his first heat.

But Vasquez believes the reaction was unnecessary.

"There were so many other ways it could have gone and for some odd reason, she picked the most aggressive. I'm not sure why it seems like a personal she has versus training," said Vasquez.

A spokesperson for the US Postal Service told ABC13 that Houston is number 1 in the country in dog attacks, adding that the service area including Vasquez's zip code is the worst in all of Houston. Carriers in that area are particularly on guard.
Vasquez would like others to learn from her experience.

"I would love the postal service to take a look at their training protocol and maybe better train their employees for said situation," she said.

In regards to Dean's incident, USPS responded that in 2017, employees sustained more than 6,244 painful dog attacks and bite injuries, resulting in a loss of time from work and costly medical treatment.

A spokesperson says all letter carriers, including substitutes, are provided safety tips, including: Do not run away, hold your satchel in front of you, back away slowly from the dog, and keep at least one full can of dog repellent spray. The repellent, according to the USPS, has undergone extensive laboratory and field tests. They say veterinarians have thoroughly examined it and have stated that it is safe, effective, and a very humane method of controlling animals.

For additional information regarding how to avoid dog bites, please visit the USPS website.
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