Citing dangerous pit bull, post office suspends delivery to Concord’s Cornell Street

Last modified: 12/15/2013 11:59:49 PM
For more than a century, couriers of the U.S. Postal Service have held fast to an unofficial creed, that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” will keep them from their task.

That does not apparently account for a four-legged resident at 5 Cornell St. in Concord named Levi.

More than a year has passed since the Postal Service last delivered mail to homes on Cornell Street – the result, according to an agency spokesman, of three separate attacks by the 4-year-old boxer-pit bull mix, one of two dogs that live at the address.

“It has lunged at our employee, menacingly and with bared teeth, in three separate incidents,” said Tom Rizzo, spokesman for the agency’s Northern New England District, in an email. “In each case, the dog was loose on the property and not restrained by the owner. The letter carrier barely escaped without injury.”

Mail is still delivered to residents on the street, just not directly. Some have moved their mailboxes to the end of the street, while others pick up their items at the post office.

Neighbors are frustrated, as are the dog’s owners, the Dales, who contest the Postal Service’s claims, insist that Levi poses no physical threat and say they are willing to sacrifice home delivery so that those around them can get it back.

“Why are our neighbors being punished for this?” asked Nolibeth Dale.

Last month, Concord’s postmaster, Nicole French, proposed a solution of her own: install a six-unit collective mailbox at the corner of Cypress and Noyes streets, a half block from Levi and the Dales.

In a letter requesting permission for the project, French told city council members of an “ongoing concern about delivering anywhere near that home.”

“The delivery supervisor has walked the street and said that, based on the dog’s extremely agitated behavior, it would not surprise him if the dog came through the window, at some point,” French wrote.

Rizzo underlined the agency’s concern: “The personal safety of our carriers is paramount and we will not compromise where the threat exists.”

Dale, however, sees no such threat. She said Levi has lived at the house for close to four years and has never physically harmed anyone, including the two mailmen allegedly attacked last year. He has been trained, is always walked on a leash, is crated when the family is out of the house and gets along fine with the family’s other dog, a 7-pound pompadorian, she said.

“We love our dog,” Dale said. “He’s innocent.”

In the first and third incidents cited by the Postal Service, Dale said she was placing Levi into a car and did not realize the mailman was approaching her home. Levi began barking and darted toward him, she said, but stopped each time before touching the man. In the latter episode, she said the mailman pepper-sprayed the dog in the face.

Dale said the other incident involved a substitute mailman, and that Levi only rushed him, never barking, lunging or biting him. She said the family is not willing to part with the dog but is willing to leave their mailbox at the end of the street and agree to other conditions, such as crating him during certain afternoon hours, when the mail is typically delivered.

“I don’t see why they won’t compromise with us rather than involving the city in this whole thing,” Dale said. “It’s just a simple solution.”

Rizzo said post office officials met directly with the Dales last year but were unable to reach an accord over the dog.

“The animal remained unrestrained,” he wrote.

Neighbors’ reactions to the situation appear mixed. Nancee Donovan, who lives across the street from the Dales, said she, too, has concerns about Levi.

“I’m scared,” she told WMUR. “I never go out of the house when I see them taking the dog for a walk.”

But Mary Temple, who is 81 and lives next door to the Dales, said she has never had an issue with the dog. She said she had her mailbox moved to the end of the street. Her children often go pick up its contents for her.

“I’d rather have the mailbox here where I could get it, but I don’t argue,” she said. “They put it where they want to. I don’t care.”

(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)

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