People living in the 200 block of C Street, a residential street in Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood, say they have had to go to the post office to pick up their mail for over six months because it isn’t being delivered to their homes.
The reason? A neighborhood dog has been wandering loose, and is a threat to the mail carrier.
Resident Ardis Parshall said her mail abruptly stopped being delivered in October. She said she doesn’t have a car and wasn’t leaving her home when COVID-19 cases were spiking in the state, so she had no way to retrieve it. After three weeks, a stranger showed up with her mail, including her ballot for the 2020 election, because he received it by mistake from the post office.
Parshall says she has spent months trying to get mail delivery to restart by reaching out to everyone from animal control officers to Utah’s senators. She said neighbors were originally told the mail service stopped because of dogs on their street, but says the Postal Service has refused to respond to her questions and pleas for help.
“The postal officers will not respond to anyone, and ... they are withholding mail from everyone on the street,” she said in an email. “They just refuse to cooperate with anyone.”
Patrice Showers Corneli, another C Street resident, said the dog in question regularly runs free in the neighborhood because its owner refuses to put it on a leash or inside a fenced-in area. She said it has been known to act aggressive with its nostrils flaring and its teeth bared. She provided The Salt Lake Tribune with photos of the dog in the neighborhood without a leash.
USPS spokesman Floyd Wagoner confirmed that mail delivery has stopped for nine homes because of the dogs. He said the safety of mail carriers is of paramount concern to the Postal Service.
“Due to a roaming, unrestrained and potentially dangerous dog that roams the 100 Block of the C Street neighborhood, putting our carrier at risk, we were forced to stop delivering to mailboxes on the front porches of nine homes,” he said in a statement. “Affected customers were notified of this danger in November 2020, but unfortunately the dog continued to pose a threat to our employees.”
The dog’s owner is currently facing one misdemeanor count of animal nuisance and 15 counts of allowing an animal to go at large, according to the Salt Lake County Attorney’s Office. Under Utah’s codes, the owner of a “vicious” animal is not allowed to let the animal roam freely. A pretrial conference for the case is set for later this month.
Callista Pearson, the spokesperson for Salt Lake County Animal Services, said the investigation into the dog began after animal control received complaints from neighbors about the Postal Service not delivering mail. She said postal officers have refused to be involved in the investigation.
A reporter from The Salt Lake Tribune visited the owner of the dog’s home on Thursday.
There was one medium-sized, grey dog sitting outside on the porch when she approached the house. That dog wagged its tail and did not bark as the reporter walked towards it. A large, black dog inside the house barked at the reporter through a window. When the dogs’ owner opened the door, the large dog ran onto the porch, where it barked and wagged its tail. It did not growl, bare its teeth or snarl.
The owner of the dogs declined to comment because of the pending legal charges.
Wagoner said residents on the street have been instructed to erect mailboxes on the curbside so that mail can be delivered without the mail carrier having to leave their vehicle.
But Parshall said creating a new mailbox should not be her responsibility.
“I have no money to buy the parts, no transportation to pick up the parts, no tools to install a mailbox, no way to mix the concrete I expect would be necessary and no money to hire a workman,” she said. “I have a perfectly good mailbox attached to the wall next to my front door.”
Correction: “A previous version of this article misstated the block where mail delivery has stopped. It is 200, not 100, block of C Street.”