Monday, June 23, 2014

Getting our MACC* On (*that's Minneapolis Animal Care & Control)

During the quarantine, Nano was too depressed to even look outside.

June 11 - 20

You wouldn't think that after an alleged false misleading "creative" report of a dog bite, that I wouldn't have much good to say about Minneapolis Animal Care & Control, but you would be wrong. There are some fine people working there, dealing with very challenging situations every day.

The officer who came to take the report on the evening of June 11, NE, was calm, objective and informative. I'm grateful because I was a hot mess.

The scariest part of the evening was when NE said Nano would be put on a standard quarantine for 10 days. His vaccinations were up-to-date, so this "quarantine" was in our home.

For 10 days we could only go out for short bathroom breaks and then had to head right back inside. So, that's what we did. I had to cancel some social events because people couldn't come over and things like that, but all in all, it could have been a lot worse.

The nerve-wracking part was waiting for the MACC final report and recommendations. I had no idea what to expect. There are two designations they can choose: Dangerous or Potentially Dangerous. For now, Nano is designated as "Potentially Dangerous - with Training". This is the lowest/mildest option available to them - or so I've been told by three different MACC officers.

For the next 4 weeks, Nano and I will be working on training and are required to use a 3-foot leash during walks. No muzzle** or other restrictions.

**This is a big deal and a very good thing, per the animal behaviorist I've hired to help assess and train Nano. She said that virtually every dog bite report includes requiring the dog to wear a muzzle when they are out walking. Her interpretation of this 'no muzzle' thing is that MACC doesn't see Nano as a threat to the community. (Update: after meeting with the new director and the officer who helped write the report - they aren't worried about Nano at all.)

So. Yay for Nano! One point for the little guy!

Meanwhile, back at the USPS ...

Phone calls still not being returned. The other tenants and I continue to be given the run around, spoken to rudely and generally treated with disrespect. We can't get a straight answer from anyone or people don't know the answers. I'd go through all the details, the calls, the voice mails, the tears and gnashing of teeth, but why ... you can imagine what it was like, I am sure.

During the week of June 16 - 20, we were all trying to get in touch with a supervisor, Ms. D. I left message after message via my contact in Consumer Affairs, Mr. J. He kept saying I needed to wait and let the local post office station team review things and they'd reach out when they were ready. I should give Mr. J. credit here - he never yelled at me or made thinly veiled threats. He was polite, professional and clear about what he could/could not help with.

When I finally got Ms. D. on the phone, I was told that *she* had been waiting for *me* to call her. Forgive my skepticism, but ... yeah, right.

The main thing we talked about were my ideas for how to resolve this issue and create an environment where mail carriers could confidently deliver the mail to our building. We talked it through verbally and Ms. D. told me to write it all down and bring it to the station manager, PH. I asked if the letter needed to be notarized and Ms. D. said it did not.

I got to work immediately and this is what I hand-delivered to PH at ChowderCorn Station on June 19 at about 1pm.

June 19, 2014

To the United States Postal Service - Powderhorn Station

In order to reach a resolution and restart mail delivery service to all the residents at 0000 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55407, I propose the following good faith precautionary measures, which go above and beyond what Animal Control is requiring of me.
  • Mail is usually delivered at approximately 9am to 0000 Chicago Ave. S. I will keep my dog, Nano, inside my apartment during the hours of 8-10am, on days mail is delivered (barring an emergency such as a building fire).
  • In recognition that mail is not always delivered at the same time every day, I will further listen and look down the front stairwell (it’s an open stairwell, I can easily see/hear when mail is being delivered from the 3rd floor of the building) before bringing Nano outside for bathroom breaks. If mail is being delivered at any time of day, I will either:
o   Wait for the mail carrier to leave the building and be out of sight or
o   Use the rear entrance of the building that opens to the alleyway to bring Nano out of the building
  •   If I see any mail carrier in the neighborhood at any time of the day during bathroom/exercise breaks with Nano, I will use any means possible to create distance, such as: crossing the street if traffic/pedestrian lights support that action or walking the other way.
I welcome the opportunity to discuss these precautionary measures in person or over the phone. I also welcome other reasonable suggestions to ensure mail may be delivered to 0000 Chicago Ave. S. with confidence.

Thank you for your consideration and cooperation in this matter.

That's a pretty nice letter, right? I worked on it really hard. I had four people read it to ensure the tone was okay and that I was being clear and respectful.

I also found and referred to a USPS publication called the Postal Bulletin to guide my suggestions. The edition (PB22388) was from May 1, 2014 and can be found online, right here. It had all sorts of great information about how the USPS should work with customers when there are any issues with dogs. It's actually really impressive how much community outreach and work the USPS puts into this issue - as they should. <<< I'm now done giving them credit for anything positive. They haven't earned it.

Guess when I heard back from the USPS after I delivered that nice letter with logical, no-cost, commonsense precautions? Never.

It's now June 25 and I have called and left messages every single weekday and exactly nobody has gotten back to me to discuss the letter or offer their own reasonable suggestions.

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