Shirley Motley went about three weeks without getting any mail delivered to her home.
As it turns out, the Northmont Boulevard resident had to go to the post office to pick it up because a neighbor’s dog — a 11-pound Yorkshire terrier — bit a mail carrier, prompting a temporarily halt on mail delivery in the neighborhood.
Motley wasn’t at all happy with that.
“I think it’s totally ridiculous for somebody else’s dog to nip somebody and the whole neighborhood’s got to suffer for it,” she said. “I just don’t see how the post office can do customers the way they done us.”
To get the mail moving again, the dog’s owner had to install a curbside mailbox and agree to put up a fence. Home mail delivery resumed the week before last.
Another neighborhood in North Danville, Locust Lane, had its mail delivery temporarily halted after dogs chased mail carriers.
“The Danville Post Office curtailed delivery to Locust Lane ... due to letter carriers being chased multiple times by a Pit Bull and a Pit Bull/Lab mix,” U.S. Postal Service spokesman Tad Kelley explained via email. “The Danville Office states the problem occurred over a lengthy period of time where dogs remained loose.”
The post office asked residents to install curbside mailboxes and some decided to use post office boxes.
“We cannot continue to place our employees in danger of being attacked or bitten by unrestrained animals,” Kelley added.
Each year, the postal service records thousands of dog bites to its carriers nationwide. Last year dogs attacked postal employees 5,714 times, the postal service reports, a number that is down about 500 attacks from 2017.
There have been no other recorded attacks in Danville in the past two years, though in Pittsylvania County there was one attack in Axton last year and one in Blairs in 2017.
In all, mail carriers in Virginia were bitten by dogs 153 times in 2018 and 143 times in 2017.
Northmont Boulevard resident Betsy Harkness is the owner of Jethro, the 8-year-old male Yorkie that bit a mail carrier on the leg last month.
She takes responsibility and is sorry for what happened. But she still thinks the post office should have informed people that mail delivery would stop.
“My thing is, why didn’t they notify people just out of courtesy?” she said.
Other Northmont residents agree.
“It was just unfair we had to be punished for one person’s little dog,” resident Tammy Hatchett said. “They could have sent somebody from the postal service to tell us the mail wasn’t going to be delivered.”
At Locust Lane, resident Angie Browder said everybody there had to get a curbside mailbox. She wondered why the post office didn’t just make the dog’s owner buy one.
“Why didn’t they make them go to the post office every day [to pick up mail],” Browder said from her front porch. “This is a long street. I don’t understand why they made the whole street put up mail boxes because of one dog.”
Browder said her neighbors went about a month without getting mail. Delivery didn’t resume for residents until they got their own curbside mailboxes, she said.
“We just got a box about two weeks ago,” Browder said at her home in the 500 block of Locust Lane. Her landlord had it installed.
Another neighbor, who did not want her name included in this story, said she had been chased by the dog.
“I had trouble with the dog,” she said from just inside the door of her Locust Lane home. “I was scared of him.”
She said the dog no longer is in the neighborhood.
Animal control picked up the Locust Lane pit bull — named Kane — nearly three months ago, said former owner Stephanie Reeves.
“I was upset,” she said. “My children were devastated.”
Reeves got Kane around Thanksgiving, when he was 4 weeks old. Problems with mail delivery to her porch mailbox began in January, she said, about the same time she began letting Kane out in the front yard to relieve himself and hang out on the front porch.
Kane, while on the porch, often would bark to let Reeves know when the mail carrier was near. Though the yard was not fenced in, Kane was restrained on a runner, which basically is a long cable that allows the dog to roam over a large space.
“I think the mail carrier was just lazy and he didn’t want to walk the street,” she said.
Reeves has had to pick up her mail at the post office ever since.
“We appreciate our customers’ assistance with this matter,” Kelley wrote. “While we are pleased to learn one of the loose dogs has been removed, we remain concerned with other dogs who pose a safety hazard to our letter carriers.”
As for Harkness at Northmont Boulevard, she had a curbside mailbox installed and will have a fence put up in her backyard for her dog Aug. 16.
“I had to spend $1,000 to put up a fence and I live on a fixed income,” she said.
As for Jethro, Harkness said: “I just keep him in the house.”
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.