By Mel Carriere
When Supervisors, Station Managers, and Postmasters that have never delivered mail open their mouths to make some sort of official sounding pronouncement they usually just wind up saying something stupid, but because the stupidity now has official sanction letter carriers are forced to endure these misguided words and logic while under the watchful gaze of the boss, and then ignore them and do the right thing as soon as his or her back is turned.
It is especially frustrating when the boss who carried mail for all of six months tries to act like the resident expert on dogs, a veritable postal "dog whisperer," and chastises a letter carrier in front of all of her peers on the workroom floor when she was just doing the best she could to escape from an impossible situation.
We had a standup talk this morning about a dog attack involving one of our CCAs who was attacked by three dogs simultaneously while delivering on an auxiliary route. Auxiliary Routes and their role in dog attacks could be an entirely separate topic I could write several indignant paragraphs about, but I will try to focus and stay on task because I'm sitting in Starbucks, hiding out from the real "boss," and any minute now she is going to call and tell me to bring home something she has to stick in the soup but forgot to buy at the store.
This dog incident story gets real ugly. One of the three dogs that attacked this unfortunate young lady was a Pit Bull. Because there were three dogs involved in the attack she couldn't safely retreat from the Pit Bull. Anyone who has carried mail more than six months, unlike the "Dog Whisperer," could tell you that dogs in groups instinctively assume a wolf pack mentality that makes them hunt like...well wolves. As actual wolves do in the wild, dogs in packs will surround their quarry on all sides. The quarry in this case was that letter carrier.
In the process of backing away from one of the dogs the CCA apparently tripped on the curb and fell on her back hard. As she lay on her back, apparently unable to move by the account our Safety Captain gave us, she screamed out for help but absolutely no one on the block came out to assist her. It turned out the owner was home the entire time and it is ludicrous to think that he didn't hear all of that screaming and barking in front of his own house involving his own dogs, but the scoundrel only reared his ugly meek head later when a Postal Supervisor came by to knock at his door. He then gave a version of events that contradicted what the CCA said, but this contradiction kind of implied that he witnessed the entire incident and did nothing.
The CCA finally managed to call the Post Office from her horizontal position and a buffed out Supervisor appeared a few minutes later to chase the dogs off. I'm not sure if the poor lady was bitten, but by all accounts she hurt her back and she wasn't at work today. Usually in cases like the this the letter carrier involved is out for a considerable amount of time. CCAs usually don't have the luxury of convalescing for several weeks as we regulars do. Lost work for them means lost money.
Going back to the standup talk, Dog Whisperer Boss criticized the letter carrier for running, claiming that she should have stood her ground, because running from a dog only encourages their predatory instincts and increases the dog's level of aggression. While this may be true for a single dog, when a mini wolf pack attacks standing up to one dog means the others sneak up behind you and bite you in the butt.
Blanket statements about dogs are not wise, especially by a person who has probably never been attacked wolf pack style. I have. Yeah, I admit it was only three Chihuahuas that surrounded me in a circle and I managed to stomp my way to freedom with my size 15s without being bitten, but the principle is the same. Pit Bull or Chihuahua, the danger level from dogs in a pack increases exponentially for the letter carrier and every incident calls for a different response. To criticize this poor lady who has already been through so much pain is tacky at best, and almost criminally stupid at worst.
I hope all of my East Coast letter carrier friends are weathering the storm. My good thoughts and blessings go your way. Out of respect for what you are going through in that terrible blizzard I won't make any jokes about sitting here in my shirt sleeves. Out of solidarity I wore long pants instead of shorts today, if that makes you feel any better.
Image from http://www.news.ruralinfo.net/2014/05/postal-service-pushes-to-prevent-dog-attacks-on-letter-carriers.html