ANIMAL WATCH - The annual report by the United States Postal Service, released ahead of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, ending June 10, 2023, indicated that more than 5,300 Postal Service employees were bitten by dogs while delivering mail last year. But it does not tell how many of these “bites” were attacks by Pit Bull-types or other “guard” dogs and how many severe injuries were inflicted.
One of those “bites” in 2022 was a fatal attack on rural carrier Pamela Jane Rock. The report ignored Pamela’s death as it advised people that even “good dogs can have a bad day.”
Pamela was a happy, deeply religious person who loved her church and the people on her mail route, according to the grieving family and friends she left behind.
Pamela Rock was not killed by just a “dog bite.”
SHE WAS KILLED BY FIVE PIT BULL (MIXED-BREED) DOGS
Pamela Jane Rock, Florida postal worker attacked and mauled by a pack of five dogs, died from severe multiple injuries the following day.
WTLV reports that the incident occurred Sunday afternoon after Pamela Rock’s USPS delivery vehicle broke down in a rural area in Putnam County. As she waited for assistance, officials say all five dogs broke through the fence of a nearby home and started attacking her.
Neighbors tried to intervene, but by the time deputies arrived, the 61-year-old had already suffered traumatic injuries.
“She had one arm amputated before she passed, and they had her other limbs in slings trying to save them. Her heart stopped twice, and her blood pressure was all over the place,” Rock’s niece, Kaydee Richley, told WTLV.
Richley said her family is still in shock. “They were negligent in the care of their animals. They did not just attack her, they were ripping her apart,” she said.
“She just started this job in December. She had finished up her training and she was just so excited for this new adventure,” Rock’s niece told the station.
Pamela Rock’s grieving family confirmed she had lived a life of service, volunteering with the Peace Corps in Guatemala, educating indigenous women and children on nutrition on a reservation and working for years with the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program, and testifying on Capitol Hill.
“Deputies applied tourniquets and provided first aid until rescue units arrived. Rock was transported to a nearby hospital and then flown to a trauma center in Gainesville in critical condition. She succumbed to her injuries Monday evening,” the sheriff's office said.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Chief told CNN it wasn’t the first time animal control has been called to the area where the attack took place. He said the five dogs that attacked Rock will be euthanized, and depending on the evidence, the owners could face charges. BUT that did not happen.
No Justice For Pamela Rock
On February 28, 2023 the I-TEAM News4JAX reported “Investigators find no wrongdoing after Postal worker dies in Putnam County dog attack.
The State Attorney’s Office told reporters it is not filing charges against the dog owner and OSHA investigation did not result in any safety violations. The memo explained that “federal and local investigations didn’t find wrongdoing by Rock’s employer or the dogs’ owner.”
The State Attorney also stated that “the dogs’ owner tried to surrender them twice, including 10 days before the attack. However, there was an admission that there were at least four incidents involving the dogs in the past few months prior to the attack.”
In February 2022, the memo said, the dog’s owner called Putnam County Animal Control and left a message saying he needed to surrender some dogs because “he could no longer care for them.” Animal Control staff told investigators no one ever returned this call or followed up with the owner.
Then, eleven days after the dogs escaped and attacked a 50-year-old man, who was hospitalized, allegedly a sheriff’s deputy told the dog’s owner to quarantine the dogs and that Animal Control would contact him, but later Putnam County Animal Control claimed that it never received that police report and that they were not contacted by the dogs’ owner.
Then on August 10, 2022, a woman reported that one of the dogs had escaped and attacked her car, which was damaged, but no one was hurt. After that the owner tried to surrender the dogs again to animal control. However, his request was declined, “based on Putnam County Animal Control’s assessment of the situation.
One of the animal control officials stated that they would not take privately owned dogs just because the owner didn’t want them or says he cannot afford to feed them.
Ten days after that, the dogs escaped again and savagely attacked Pamela Rock.
“The Sheriff’s Office reported it recommended misdemeanor recklessness charges on the part of the dog owner, but the State Attorney investigation found he wasn’t reckless, based on the fact that he had taken actions to get rid of the dogs and also had tried to fix the fence.”
Nationally “Blocking” Mail Service Because Of Vicious Dogs Or Criminals Hurts Innocents And Angers Community
A variety of techniques have been tried to avoid what happened to Pam Rock and protect mail carriers. One of them is "blocking" mail delivery to the immediate area. In general, “blocking” mail has been used when there is a vicious dog that is not being kept confined when mail is delivered; but it now also applies to a rise in human crimes and potential physical assaults on Postal carriers.
On April 13, 2022, the New York Times reported on U.S.P.S. Stops Mail for Santa Monica Block After Assaults a Santa Monica, CA, community that questioned why their mail was not being delivered and was advised it was because a Postal carrier had been threatened by a resident who then attacked him with a broom handle.
Although some residents were sympathetic to the safety of the carrier, others said they were angry that an entire area was being punished by the post office blocking mail delivery. The employee had reportedly sustained a minor injury.
Thousands of San Francisco residents may be missing mail after a robbery, San Francisco AP reported on April 2, 2023, that “Some San Francisco Residents May be Missing Mail” that was deposited in a blue postal collection box and from green relay boxes after a postal carrier was robbed by two men in the evening last month. He was not hurt. It was not clear whether they also took mail inside them. The boxes are used to collect and store incoming and outgoing letters and parcels, according to the report.
The Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information that leads to the conviction of those who robbed the postal worker, and up to $10,000 for those responsible for mail theft.
Mail theft in Seattle reportedly forced the U.S. Postal Service to pause deliveries for an entire ZIP code, according to FOX News; however, mail delivery for the 98118 ZIP code resumed after delivery was halted for “less than 900” residents, The Seattle Times reported. Residents in the ZIP code were told to pick up their mail from the local post office while delivery services were paused
Residents were notified, “Due to the rise in mail theft and vandalism we will be holding all mail for your address. We do not have an exact date of when all master locks will be replaced,” a sign on a mail container near in the Columbia neighborhood of the city read, according to KING 5.
Residents who spoke to the news outlet said they were not alerted to the pause in deliveries by the Postal Service, only discovering the halt by talking to neighbors or seeing Facebook posts about the pause.
USPS Warns of Criminal Attacks On Letter Carriers
Last month, the US Postal service warned that it has “seen an increase in attacks on letter carriers and mail fraud incidents, with 305 mail carriers robbed in the first half of fiscal year 2023, on pace to exceed the previous year's 412 robberies,” CBS News advised.
Other Crimes Against Postal Carriers Raising National Concern
On March 13, 2023, the National Association of Postal Supervisors reported there have been 7,000 reports of violent crimes against Postal employees in the past year, which is blamed on removing the Postal Police force from activities which included patrolling mail routes and the blue neighborhood boxes.
“US Postal carriers and your mail are under assault,” says NAPS.
Fortune reports, “Postal workers are ‘outraged and angered’ by a 78% rise in robberies that target them, often at gunpoint.” This report shares information directly from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and states that “robberies of postal carriers has surged 78% to nearly 500 in 2022 and have quadrupled over a decade.” It continued, “Weapons were used in most of the 496 robberies, injuring 31 postal carriers, last year alone.”
One Milwaukee letter carrier, Aundre Cross, was shot to death, leading to three arrests.”
“The main target of these sophisticated and organized criminal rings is the special keys that carriers use to access collection boxes and deliver mail in apartment buildings, where they have access to numerous individual or business mailboxes,” NAPS explained.
In January, a letter carrier in Peabody (near Boston) was told by a robber, to give him his key or he would be shot, as he pointed a semi-automatic handgun at him. And in March, a carrier was slashed with a machete. (Both suspects were apprehended.)
The U.S. Postal Service said that people should avoid allowing either incoming or outgoing mail to sit in their mailboxes for too long.
It is also recommended to not use the blue mailboxes on the street for mailing checks, but rather, take them into the local post office, and always check your bank statement to assure checks were received and cashed for the amount you authorized.
Assure that ALL dogs are either inside or safely enclosed in an area where they cannot escape, even if they love your delivery person.
This is also likely to make more people want aggressive dogs for protection of their yards, but modern security devices are a better and safer investment and less likely to make you an added statistic.
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)