Wednesday, June 25, 2014

There's a Policy for That ... or Maybe Not ...

A mailing sent out to Minneapolis residents around June 16 (6 days AFTER the incident with Nano)

Throughout all of this, it has seemed to me that something just wasn't right about how entrenched the USPS was in their position. I've spoken to attorneys, the Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison's office, Al Franken's office, my own attorney, multiple MACC officers, and the animal behaviorist I'm working with as part of Nano's mandated training and they've all said essentially the same thing: We have never seen the USPS overreact so strongly to something like this. It's absolutely bizarre.

Another aspect of this that is very odd has to do with timing of the incident and the Zero Tolerance Policy I've been hearing about recently.

The incident happened on June 10.

On June 16, when I picked up my mail at Powderhorn (I was so afraid to go in there based on how I'd been treated over the phone by PH, the station manager, that I was shaking the whole time). So, I pick up my mail and sort through it when I got home. I found a postcard from the USPS about its Zero Tolerance Policy.

On June 19, I first heard the USPS Zero Tolerance Policy referred to by Ms. D. in relation to the incident with Nano.

I then informally polled a few folks who live in Minneapolis and they, too, had received the same postcard around the same time as me - June 16, give or take.

So, here's what's happening. This policy, which was just communicated out to Minneapolitans last week is being retroactively applied to the incident with my dog.

This cannot possibly be legal.

I actually asked PH, Powderhorn manager, how far back the USPS planned to go as they retroactively told dog owners who have had any kind of incident with a mail carrier that they need to kill their pets.

PH said we weren't talking about other cases, we were talking about mine. A classic, non-answer.

This just can't be right, though. A good question to add to my list of things to ask my attorney, I guess.

I can guarantee you that the USPS took none of the steps listed below. None. Not one. And when asked about it, they initially said something about "local stations can make their own policies", yet Powderhorn doesn't apparently have any of their "own policies" written down.

And then, once the Zero Tolerance mailing went out, they started relying on that instead.

For all you dog owners out there, just know that there is no policy. The USPS will do whatever they want to you and your dog. Even if you can prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt that your dog did not bite, bark, scratch, looked cross-eyed at a mail carrier ... it won't matter.

It. Won't. Matter.

And that is a terrifying prospect. I am terrified of these people.

They are systematically boxing me into a corner where I have fewer and fewer reasonable options, which makes no sense when there are so many reasonable, no-cost, easy-to-implement options we could start doing tomorrow that would "obtain a safe environment in which carriers can do their work."

Here is what the USPS policies are around "animal interference" - this is from the Postal Bulletin, dated May 1, 2014 (PB 22388), which is hardly out-dated material.
Progressive Warning Letters and Thank You Letter
This section offers materials for you to use to help your letter carriers do their jobs more safely. You can use the progressive warning letters to alert dog owners to the possible loss of mail delivery if they do not restrain their pets. Additionally, don’t forget to send a letter of thanks when they do!
Warning letters, like collection letters, need to be handled tactfully. The first and second sample letters on the website tell customers what we want them to do. The third tells them we have taken corrective steps. The fourth and fifth letters detail the customers’ options. In using these letters, keep in mind that our purpose is not to police the neighborhood but to obtain a safe environment in which carriers can do their work. Though most customers will respond to your first polite request, be meticulous in following up if they don’t. Otherwise, your efforts will not be taken seriously.

Nondelivery of Mail Policy
The availability and use of the repellent does not replace the policy of nondelivery of mail where there is animal interference!
Collection and delivery service personnel are to report the name and address of the customer where such interference occurs to the Postmaster or authorized supervisor, who must immediately telephone the customer and request that the animal be confined during the usual delivery hours in the neighborhood. The Postmaster or authorized supervisor must further inform the customer that (1) no deliveries will be made until this is done, and (2) service will be restored upon assurance that the animal will be confined.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This is a serious offer. I own Great River Pet Center. This is ridiculous! I will be happy to board your dog free of charge until this is resolved one way or another. Please contact me. Our website has our phone number. Not sure if it's appropriate to publish it here. The website is

    1. Hello - I'm finally getting around to thanking people. It was pretty crazy for a few days there. I think we are out of the woods. I'm not 100% confident that they USPS doesn't have something else up their sleeves - but I think I'm just distrustful after everything I experienced over the past 3 weeks.

      I so appreciate your kind offer to board Nano at no cost. If things go into the ditch with USPS again for whatever reason (fingers crossed, they won't), I will keep you in mind.

      Thank you, again!
      Alicia and Nano

  3. Hi Alicia,

    I am following your story with great interest. An acquaintance - one of your neighbors - posted the Star Tribune link on Facebook, and I have since read all of your blog posts. I am so sorry to hear that this is happening to you. It is ridiculous, and I cannot believe how the USPS is treating you. I really hope that you get answers and a resolution soon. If there is anything I can do beyond calling USPS and posting on social media, let me know. You can find me on Twitter at @fluteswedie.


  4. Have you thought about starting a petition? I'm so sorry you are going through this. The entire incident is insane and actually pretty scary. The fact that anyone can say anything they want and have soo much control over your life and home makes it seem like we are living in a communist country. The USPS should be grateful they are still in operation, with everyone using email and online statements and bill pay and FedEx and UPS having much better customer service. I personally could live without ever using USPS again, the only thing I receive through them anymore is JUNK! Stay strong and keep fighting for your baby and I pray that things will go your way.

  5. Hello - yes, I'd love a petition. But there's only one of me and a really long list of things to do. If anyone here would like to help with that I'd be eternally grateful! I can provide info to describe the situation in a short paragraph or whatever is needed.

    1. I've never started one, but I sign them all of the time. I just looked on and it seems very simple. You basically answer 3 questions and upload a photo.

    2. Hi there,
      Well I never did get around to this and now, I hope, I won't need to. But, thank you so much for looking into it for me. I literally didn't have the time and was imagining a much more involved process.

      Thank you so much!
      Alicia and Nano

  6. This whole mess is insane.

    With that said, I have had a similar experience with MACC and a Comcast tech who claims he was bitten by one of our Min Pins. It was just as a ridiculous claim as what happened to the Postal Carrier.

    Also, Marshall Tanick is a pretty good lawyer, he was my lawyer over the course of 4 months when dealing with a different legal issue (we won).

    Good luck with these clowns and give nano and extra scritch for us.

    1. The interesting thing to me, is that I am happier with the MACC experience than I am with the USPS experience. At least with MACC, you know what to expect. You may not like it and your dog may not like it - but there is order and predictability and so, it's not quite as terrifying. The USPS, it's like the Wild West - nothing is predictable or rational, there are processes but nobody follows them, and many of the employees I've been dealing with seem to take pleasure in doing mean-spirited things and then watching you writhe around in agony. I've said this a number of times, but this experience was one of the most painful events in my adult life - and, like most people, I've had some painful times. If the USPS is staffed by clowns, they are, For Sure, evil, scary clowns.

      I'm glad to hear Marshall was able to help you. He's given me great advice so far and he amuses me with that absent-minded professor thing he's got going on - you think maybe he's not listening but then you realize that he's absorbing every word. I've heard so many good things about him since I hired him - that's always reassuring.

      And I hope the Comcast/Min Pin run in was resolved. I would imagine dealing with them is almost as infuriating as dealing with the USPS.