Monday, June 23, 2014

Wait, What Are My Options Again? Oh, Kill My Dog? I Don't Think So.

Small in stature, big of heart

On June 20, I had the first assessment scheduled with the MACC-approved trainer/behaviorist. It only took me 4 days from the time I received the MACC report and recommendations to get started on the training program - MACC complimented me on my speed, so I must be doing something right here, even though it doesn't always feel like it.

I was feeling pretty good on Friday afternoon - we were making positive progress! And even though Nano is a pretty good dog, there are always (always) things to work on with dogs (and people too).

Then I got a call from the condo association treasurer, Kris. A letter had been posted on the door of the building from PH, the manager of Powderhorn Station. It sounded scary and had ultimatums and timelines. Kris wanted to know if I'd heard back from anyone at the USPS regarding the letter I gave them on 6/19. You can find my solution letter at the bottom of this post.

I told her that I hadn't and asked what the USPS letter said. I maybe shouldn't have asked this question while I was driving a car because by the time Kris was done, I was hysterically sobbing and completely confused.

I pulled my car over and frantically checked my voicemail - did I miss a call from the USPS? Did they want to talk to me about their ideas for how to resume mail service? No. I checked my email but then remembered nobody at the USPS had asked for my email, so there wouldn't be anything there.

I then saw an email from Kris, sharing the letter with a core group of us at the condo who had been dealing with this: me, my landlord, the condo association president, a condo owner who used to practice law in Minnesota and Kris.

Here's what they said, typos and all:

Subject: Discontinuation of Delivery Due to Prevention of Dog Attack

Within current Postal Service policies, I must ask you to, within the next ten days, please choose one of the following options:

  1. Rent a post office lbox to receive your mail
  2. Provide documentation that the above mentioned dog is no longer domiciled at your residence.
... If your mail has not been picked up and one of the above options listed above has not bee n implemented within ten days, we will have no choice but to return your mail to sender."

Kris called PH and asked him what this letter was about - Was this just a form letter? Were these really the only two options available? What about the ideas Alicia sent over? 

PH said that it was a form letter, that the tenants in the building had complained so much about not getting notified before the mail service was discontinued - so now they had their notification.

I shared the letter with my attorney over the weekend and he said we needed to get things straightened out on Monday, June 23.

The weekend went by and I fretted and had insomnia and one of the worst migraines of my life (and that is saying a lot).

Monday morning, June 23, rolls around, I start the day by talking to my attorney. Then I mentally gear myself up and call Mr. J. in Consumer Affairs - he transferred me to the Postmaster's office where I left an urgent and anxiety-ridden message with an admin assistant. I learned that Ms. D. was back at her regular job and the supervisor I'd be dealing with going forward was LL - he was just back from vacation.

So, I waited all day for LL to call me back. Actually, I've left him three messages this week: 6/23, 6/24 and 6/25) and he has not called me back one time. Then again, nobody from the USPS has initiated a call to me about any of this - not a single call in 2.5 weeks.

Around 4pm, I got a text from Kris asking me to stop down to her place. I head down and can tell from her face that something is wrong. She said that JB, the condo association president had picked up his mail and spoken to PH. JB asked if there was any news about resuming mail service and PH said there was.

The Postmaster had reached his "final decision". PO boxes were no longer an option. Instead, the ONLY solution was that the dog had to go. By June 30. JB asked about an appeal process (there isn't one according to PH), he asked if I'd been told about this (I hadn't, which in and of itself is a mind-blowing breach of confidentiality).

Predictably, I lost it.

Some time later I re-found "it" and started thinking.

Nano actually can't go because MACC is requiring me to do a 4-week training session with him. If Nano is living somewhere else, even temporarily, I won't be working on the training program and will be in non-compliance with MACC plus the timing is important due to the hearing we'd be having. Non-compliance means I'm breaking the law - so that's bad. Additionally, while there is an active MACC case going on, you can't give away an animal.

This means, Nano and I would have to go together. But, I have a lease, so moving out on June 30 would force me into breach of contract. Breaking the law in a different way. That's bad too.

Besides, it was the end of the day on June 23 so I had less than a week to find a new place to live, take care of the paperwork, find a money tree to pay for the security deposit, pack up ALL my belongings, rent/borrow a truck, find/hire people to help me move and then move into this imaginary new place ... and then find the money to pay rent for two apartments.

But, I only had hearsay driving all this. Where was a formal communication about this "final decision"? JB asked and was told it was "in progress and the dog owner will have it on Wednesday". (Update: today is Wednesday, I actually went in to pick up my mail and I spoke to PH while I was there. I asked him about a formal letter and he confirmed it would be posted on the exterior door of the condo that afternoon. It wasn't.)

However, PH did verbally confirm for me that the ONLY acceptable solution to this was to get rid of the dog. P.O. Boxes were definitely off the table.

I explained the MACC training issue and breach of contract issue. PH said they weren't requiring that I move, just the dog. I told him I was not getting rid of a beloved member of my family - that was not an option, besides, MACC wasn't going to let the USPS overrule them on this issue.

PH said he'd talk to his boss about these things and they'd get back to me later. I said, "Please, please make sure it happens today. I don't have long to get things figured out." He said they would get back to me.

They didn't.

There were a number of calls to the USPS today from Senator Franken's office and Jon Tevlin, a Star Tribune reporter - and each of them got a slightly different story. Mr. Tevlin, after speaking with a PR guy for the USPS and quoting the USPS policy to him only to be met with silence was hopeful they would come back and agree to the commonsense precautions I had suggested back on June 19.

But no, that's not what happened. They doubled down and also indicated that if I moved and took my dog with me that they would pay attention to that and contact my new local post office to alert them to my "vicious dog" and suggest they cut off mail service. The sheer arrogance here is breathtaking. Not to mention the complete lack of common sense or decency. I used to support the USPS - I've even written some letters and signed some petitions on its behalf - and they have forever lost my support. I will, instead work for budget cuts and regulatory oversight - because this organization currently answers to nobody - and that isn't working.

We now believe it's possible (maybe, maybe not, who knows) that the condo residents could rent mail boxes for a couple months while I plan a move, but this isn't something the association is terribly happy about - and I can't blame them.

So, the dog "has to go". And there is only one way for that to happen without forcing me to break the law or being in breach of contract.

Nano will have to be murdered.

My beloved pet, companion and family member will have to be killed.


No way.

1 comment:

  1. This is a serious offer. I own Great River Pet Center. I've handled cage aggressive 145 lb Mastiffs. I think I can handle a small fluff ball :-) I'm offering to board your dog free until this mess is cleared up. For however long it takes. Please contact me. I'm not sure it's appropriate to post the kennel's phone number, but the website does have it listed. The website is