Sunday, July 6, 2014

Giving MACC Some Love

Yeah, yeah, yeah ... we cheated - this is an oversized tennis ball
Photo by: Briana Hokanson

For anyone who has had to deal with Minneapolis Animal Care and Control (MACC), you may not have fond memories. It's overwhelming and scary as hell the first time you go through it.

On June 11, I had my first encounter with MACC and I had no idea what to expect. Friends called and offered support and said, "they will be objective and fair". So, I took that to heart.

The officer who showed up at my apartment, NE, was professional and objective. She explained everything to me (twice - because I was such a basket case I couldn't take in information), she made friends with my cat and was a reasonable person. She took my statement and read it back to me to ensure she got it right.

She explained that since Nano was up to date on his vaccinations, she was putting him on a 10-day in-home quarantine, which is standard procedure after any reported event involving an animal. She made sure I understood the rules and answered all my questions.

She said this time of year is the busy season, so it could take a couple weeks to their their official report and recommendations, but instead, they got me the report and recommendations in 5 days.

When she gave me the report, she said something along the lines of the recommendation being the "mildest" option available - training would be required and use of a 3-foot leash during the training. But, no muzzle, which is usually standard for any alleged bite incident.

On June 24, I was verbally informed by the USPS that the only way they would resume mail delivery to the condo building was if Nano was "gone". I was on my way to file for my MACC hearing when I got the news that if I moved out with Nano that the USPS would keep an eye on me and inform my new postal station of my address and encourage them to cease mail delivery. Needless to say, I arrived at MACC in the midst of a full-blown panic attack (the first I've ever experienced) and hysterics.

I was met with compassion and assistance. For the sake of privacy, I won't identify the names of folks involved, I'll refer to them as Ms. C and Officer D. They met with me and:

  • listened to what I had to say
  • explained what my limitations were from their perspective
  • offered some ideas for things I could do that wouldn't put me in jeopardy of being in non-compliance with the MACC requirements
  • congratulated me on started the training and my choice of behaviorist/trainer
  • remained professional, objective and helpful
It was clear to me that they both cared about animals and community safety. They were extremely knowledgable about the rules and regulations of their organization and could clearly articulate those to me. Plus, they were empathic to the situation I was in. 

As I compare this experience to what I experienced with the USPS, it's like day and night. 

MACC has a process - it's clear and consistent and it's followed for every incident. You may not like it, but at least it's fair for every single person and animal. If you disagree with their findings, you have an opportunity for a hearing.

USPS has published policies that nobody has to follow. They can decide whatever they want to do to you/your neighbors. They don't care what MACC decides or how much the dog owner tries to work with them. And, according to what I was told, there is no appeal process if you disagree with them. 

I would like to see the USPS adopt national policies that apply to animal interference and incidents. I'd like that information to be communicated thoroughly to all USPS customers. I'd like to see cooperation between the USPS and local Animal Control agencies. I'd like to see a clear policy, a consistent process and a hearing/appeal process. I'd like to see an openness to work with dog owners who wish to collaborate or do the right thing to ensure mail carriers are able to carry out their duties without animal interference.

In other words, the USPS could learn a thing or 12 from MACC. 

As for the folks at MACC who I have dealt with so far - NE, Ms. C, Officer D, Officer J and the very nice officer who dropped off my hearing paperwork - I thank you. This has been a stressful time for me but you have been fair, compassionate, objective and helpful. I appreciate it and so does Nano.

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