Southeast D.C. neighborhood has mail delivery resume after dog issues

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Mail delivery service resumed on Thursday for a neighborhood in Southeast D.C. after it had been suspended for over a month following a letter carrier's concern about a loose dog in the area.

Residents on the 2800 blocks of Buena Vista Terr. SE and 28th St. SE said they noticed that their mail was no longer being delivered sometime between mid-to-late February.

"I got no mail and like you just said, terrified that you’re going to get that overcharge on bills you didn’t pay because you got no mail," said Clarence Batie.

The reason they were getting no mail delivery was because the United States Postal Service (USPS) had suspended service because the letter carrier for those streets had been "repeatedly charged" by a pit bull that lived in one of those homes.

In a statement, USPS said safety of their letter carriers is there first priority and that "postal regulations require that a letter carrier not attempt delivery of the mail to any address where an unrestrained dog is present."

This week, USPS released its annual dog bite statistics ahead of National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 9-15) and it showed that 6,755 letter carriers were bitten by dogs in 2016 (including 19 in Washington, D.C.), an increase of over 200 cases from 2015.

The dog in question, was a 10-month-old pit bull named Sky that lives in a home on the 2800 block of Buena Vista Terr. SE.

Neighbors said the sympathized with the letter carrier, but wanted to know why their homes had delivery stopped.

"Penalize him, not the whole neighborhood. That’s how I feel," said Michelle Willis.

In a statement, the USPS said if "dogs are roaming loose on a street, a carrier can refuse delivery to the entire street."

Because of the suspension of service, residents had to pick up their mail at the nearby Frederick Douglass Post Office. Residents said they were never notified of this and had to figure it out for themselves.

A spokesperson for USPS said residents that have their service suspended are supposed to be notified by mail, but could not verify if that occurred in this situation.

The dog's owner, Andre Harvey, said he is sorry for the problem he caused for the neighborhood.

"My fault for having the dog out not on the leash and not contained in the yard or anything like that and just letting her run free," said Harvey.

Harvey said the letter carrier expressed her concerns about his dog with him in late January. He said he told her he would keep the dog inside when she delivered mail, but admitted that at some point after that the dog was out when the mail carrier came by.

Harvey’s mom, Antoinette, added that after that incident they talked with the letter carrier’s supervisor and claimed they hadn't let that happen again. She added that meeting took place in early March and the mail service should not have continued to be suspended.

"So why is y’all still drilling on the dog being out there a whole month ago," said Antoinette Harvey.

On top of the issue with the family's dog, at some point the letter carrier had approached the home to talk about the dog, but was threatened by someone at the home. Andre Harvey said it was not him and does not know who it was.

The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement branch of the USPS, investigated the threat and told DCW50 News at 10 that it was resolved on February 28th.

A spokesperson for the USPS confirmed the threat incident was addressed, but added it was considered separate from the loose pit bull incident and the latter had to be addressed before mail service resumed.

Mail service resumed this past Thursday.

But going forward, the president of the local union representing letter carriers said the threats made by someone at the home is the bigger concern than the loose dog issue resuming.

"If that person doesn’t live in that address, then that’s somebody in the community, probably, and is she safe to make delivery in the community," said Robert Williams, president of Capitol Branch 142 of the National Association of Letter Carriers.

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