Neighbors upset with latest mail delivery plan after carriers' run-ins with dog

Diane Foster is upset with the U.S. Postal Service after it stopped delivering her mail after her neighbor's dog ran after a mail carrier in August and bit one last year. (KATU Photo)

Diane Foster runs two small businesses out of her home on Northeast Emerson, so mail and package delivery are vital to her.

But she hasn't gotten any deliveries since August, when her neighbor's dog ran after a mail carrier.

It was the same dog that bit a letter carrier last year. After the second incident the post office stopped delivering mail to the dog's owner, along with Foster and eight other neighbors.

"I used to sell things on the internet, the post office would pick it up on my porch, so that isn't happening anymore," Foster said.

Foster says standing in line at the post office to get her mail is bad enough, but now it's really impacting her livelihood.

The Postal Service says they plan to address the issue by installing a cluster box unit -- or CBU -- to serve the whole street, but Foster has several problems with that plan.

So she started doing some research and came across Section 631.6 of the Postal Operations Manual. She read the section to us.

"It says that customer signatures must be obtained prior to any conversion. In single-family housing areas, including manufactured housing, mobile homes where the residential lots are owned, each owner must agree to the conversion in writing. Owners who do not agree must be allowed to retain their current mode of delivery," Foster read.

Foster says no one gave written permission for this, and fears the post office is just trying to save money by reducing delivery costs.

"This is all about saving money. I think that the postmaster has, this is a bad thing to say, but I think he's found a brilliant plan to force CBU's on people and to take away their rights."

But the USPS disputes that claim. They say there have been three dog attacks here recently, not two as neighbors have stated. They also sent us this statement on the matter:

The safety of our employees is of paramount importance to the Postal Service, and even the threat of a dog attack when an animal is allowed to run loose is grounds to immediately change the mode of delivery for customers. We apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers, but in these situations, written permission is not required to make changes to the mode of delivery.

Portland ranked ninth in the nation in the number of dog attacks on letter carriers last year. Dog attacks are a serious safety concern and must be prevented whenever possible. Pet owners can help letter carriers deliver the mail safely by keeping their dogs restrained.

Regarding the box installation, recent weather slightly delayed the installation process, but our expectation is to have the neighborhood delivery box unit installed by early next week.

On occasion, the Postal Service desires changes in the mode of mail delivery for efficiency purposes in certain areas. In those cases, the Post Office requests written permission from each customer to participate in such a change.

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