SANTA MARIA, Calif. - An alleged postal pooch is tying up mail service for close to 40 Santa Maria residents and some are not giving the way this was all handled a stamp of approval.
Community members near the 400 block of Agnes Avenue now have to drive 10 to 15 minutes to get their mail now, delivering a sense of frustration and inconvenience.
Vincent Aguillon's Agnes Avenue mailbox sat empty for two weeks. "Where is the postman," he wondered.
Anticipating important bills, he finally went to the post office to find out what's going on. There they handed him a stack of mail. In that pile was a letter from the United States Postal Service.
"They never sent it to us because it was over there and it said that they weren't going to deliver the mail anymore to this whole block and it was because of a dog," said Aguillon.
A USPS Spokesperson says one of our letter carriers was attacked by an unrestrained dog along Agnes Avenue on June 6 and mail for 38 customers has been curtailed due to the safety of our employee.
Officials say the mail suspension is in line with the Post Office's District Policy on dog interference.
"This is crazy that we can't get our mail," said a concerned Agnes Avenue resident.
Out of fear of retaliation, this affected resident wanted to remain anonymous but has had to make vital alternate address arrangements.
"Nothing is being done. We're still not getting our mail. I'm on chemo and I have to have my medicine that comes in the mail," she said.
The woman thinks animal control should have quarantined the pit-bull mix in question but Santa Barbara County's Director of Animal Services says their hands are tied.
Tara Diller doesn't want to diminish what happened but says there was no attack. She says since a bite didn't occur and the dog was confined during two officer visits, they have no legal authority to remove property. Diller says there was another reported incident involving the mail carrier and this same dog back in October of 2018.
"If there's nothing going on with the dog then yeah, let them have the dog but give us back our mail," said the anonymous resident.
Diller says they're working with the Postmaster to find a resolution and USPS apologizes for the inconvenience.
"I'd like to see this thing resolved and have the mail carrier come back again but I don't think that's going to happen," said Aguillon.
The Post Office Spokesperson says they are currently working on an alternative solution for all and customers are encouraged to come to the Post Office to pick up their mail.
"It's up in the air and we're all caught in the middle of it," adds Aguillon.
County Animal Services say mail service has been suspended indefinitely and the dog's owners have been issued a warning.
Residents say there's been talk of a community drop box on their street but they'd have to pay for it which they say isn't fair.
The letter that residents received, notifying them of the mail suspension, says mail delivery will not be resumed unless official documentation of the dog's permanent removal from the premises is provided. Officials say SPCA and the dog's owner must correct the problem.
The USPS letter also states that dog bites, regardless of the extent of damage, are traumatic experiences and pose a constant hazard to the safety of our letter carriers. "Every year thousands of employees are victimized by dos, which results in unnecessary pain and suffering to our employees as well as an enormous cost to the Postal Service," it reads.