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    Ballard's redevelopment: It's a dog-eat-dog world

    Dog bites and highrises coalesce in the Scandinavian enclave turned wealthy hipster haven.

    It might surprise you to learn that, in addition to ranking highly on the lists of best cities to live in, most literary cities and fittest and most-outdoorsy American Meccas, Seattle also ranks highly on a less desirable compilation.

    According to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), Seattle ranked third among cities for dog attacks in 2012, up from tenth in 2011. A May 14 press release issued by the USPS, says that Seattle improved in 2013, but not by much. We now rank 15th in the U.S. for dog aggressiveness, tied with Philadelphia and St. Louis.

    May 18 kicks off National Dog Bite Prevention Week, an annual public awareness initiative of the USPS, supported by the American Veterinary Association.

    The Postal Service is hosting an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., at which letter carriers will recount their dog attacks, medical professionals will provide tips on dog attack prevention and insurance representatives will discuss claims and homeowner liability. A renowned dog trainer will be on hand, along with Elle, a pit bull therapy dog and the American Humane Association’s 2013 Hero Dog of the Year.

    In 2013, dogs nationwide attacked 5,581 USPS employees. Letter carriers, small children and the elderly are the most common victims of the estimated 4.5 million dog bites per year. It’s a serious problem. And it’s clearly on the minds of our city’s mail carriers.

    On one of our recent warm, sunny days, just back from a two-week vacation, I was outside in my fenced-in yard with my small Havanese dog.

    My mail carrier showed up, accompanied by a supervisor, whom she said was surveying the neighborhood.

    My dog barked at her, as she handed my mail to me over the fence. “You have till the end of the week to move your mailbox outside of the fence,” she threatened. “Otherwise, I will stop delivering your mail.”

    I was taken aback.

    I work from home and on balmy days I let my dog run free in the yard, while I work from my front porch. My dog is never outside unattended. There’s been a lot of activity in recent months, because our Ballard street was rezoned. Houses are being snapped up and razed by developers, replaced by multi-family units. We are living in a constant construction zone, noisy and filled with contractors, builders and surveyors. My dog barks at all of the strangers who are violating the once-peaceful street I’ve lived on for nearly 20 years. I don’t blame him. Sometimes I feel like barking myself.

    The day before our vacation was also sunny. My dog and I took advantage of the quiet of the construction worker’s lunch break and sat in the yard. As I took the mail from the carrier, she mentioned, “If your dog is going to be outside, you should think about moving your mailbox.” I explained that we were leaving for two weeks.

    Newly returned, I was surprised the situation had escalated. I reminded her that we had just gotten back and asked the carrier why I was being given such short notice to move my mailbox. “Because otherwise, I don’t believe you will do it,” she said. “We’ve talked about this.”

    “Once,” I reminded her.

    I called the supervisor at the Ballard Post Office. “I am not complaining about my carrier’s concern for her safety and my need to comply with her request. I am calling to complain about her rudeness,” I explained.

    The supervisor apologized. The next day, (80 degrees) though I was careful to keep my dog inside during delivery hours, my mail was not delivered.

    I spoke to the supervisor again, who explained that my mail had been put on “dog hold” until my mailbox was moved. “How would I have known that?” I asked. “She gave me till the end of the week to move my box.” “We sent you a dog hold notification,” the supervisor told me. “How was it transmitted?”  I asked. “Through the mail,” was his reply.

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    Posted Mon, May 19, 7:13 a.m. Inappropriate

    I am disgusted that anyone would put forward such a whine-fest for public consumption, and even more disgusted that Crosscut would publish it.


    Posted Mon, May 19, 7:23 a.m. Inappropriate

    I have to agree with Ivan. Not once here does the author display any sort of sympathy to the person who has been faithfully delivering her mail for years. She mentions how many mail carriers are routinely harmed by dogs, and how our city is known nationally as one of the worst.

    She is asked nicely to move the box, and does not. She is requested firmly to remove the box, and does not. Then she reaps the consequences.

    This isn't about gentrification, or Ballard, or even USPS dog policy. A fellow human who does good for you asked you to help prevent their injury and you refused.


    Posted Mon, May 19, 8:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    Sounds like we need to call the Ballard Waaamulance.

    Everyone says "oh, he barks but doesn't bite", "I'll make sure I'm around when mail is delivered", or later "OMG, he's never done that before".

    You were asked to comply a couple times - you didn't. OK - no mail for you. Post your whine on you blog or something - but not here.


    Posted Mon, May 19, 8:42 a.m. Inappropriate

    Having been a carrier for some eleven years, I can visualize this from the carrier's side. At our post office, carriers were blamed for getting bitten! If there was a dog, we were told to not get out of the truck. That was possible for curbside delivery, but for a porch delivery, it was not possible to deliver the mail without disobeying the rules concerning dogs. I befriended dogs .. off the record.. so that I could safely pass...they mostly liked me. Once I was bit by a mini spaniel, the sweetest little dog, who decided I was the enemy.

    I never mentioned it, and here's the reason why: The incident would have gone into an accident report. It would be in my record, and the inference was that it was carelessness and poor form that got me bitten. If there was a dog present, I was not to get out of the truck!

    The carrier is subject to the supervisor's authority. The supervisor is, in turn, under the authority of the postmaster. The supervisor is held responsible if there is a bad accident record. It is in the supervisor's best interest to ensure that no dogs bite his carriers. So, he makes such rules. That the supervisor was WITH the carrier in the incident described, during the warning interchange, suggests that the carrier was being held to the convention that she must warn the dog owner and the supervisor was going to make sure that happened.

    There is no way for a dogowner, homeowner can know what was making the delivery person grumpy and rude. To me, it reeks of internal pressures and power moves that this incident turned out this way.

    With tongue in cheek, I suggest the Post Office should have sent the warning note by UPS!


    Posted Mon, May 19, 9:08 a.m. Inappropriate

    Just to clarify, I understood the need to comply with the mail carrier's request in a timely manner, especially since she feared for her safety. In fact, I did comply within two days. Clearly dog bites are a serious problem, nationwide and especially in Seattle. Though an annual public awareness campaign is good, training carriers to provide clear, useful information and making that information available on the USPS website all year long would probably even further reduce dog attacks.

    Posted Wed, May 21, 1 a.m. Inappropriate

    I have owned three dogs in my adult life, and I don't have an ounce of sympathy for you. Your complaint was obnoxious and self-centered. Are you a bicyclist, by chance?


    Posted Mon, May 19, 10:40 a.m. Inappropriate

    A letter-carrier was rude to you? Crosscut - STOP THE PRESSES!!!
    But, they're your public-servant! And, you're a home-owner... IN BALLARD! That simply cannot happen! Lowly letter-carriers just cannot speak to you with that tone, right!?

    You were asked to move your mail-box 'once' (because, it's obviously required of lowly letter-carriers to ask you two or three times...). But, that half-an-hour ordeal interfered with your vacation plans to: (insert-high-status-destination-here that you can later brag, er, 'chat' about).

    Seems to me that the 'real story' here is Ballard gentrification, and the sneak-attack re-zoning by the city of Seattle, instigated by ruthless developers. I read through your previous Crosscut articles, Ms Krupnick. Not one on gentrification or re-zoning.

    So, congratulations, Ms. Krupnick! You successfully smeared an easy target and advocated for USPS corporate-privatization, under the auspices of 'dog-bite safety'.

    Hope you're feeling better, in: Paris? Kauai? Costa Rica? Barcelona?


    Posted Mon, May 19, 11:17 a.m. Inappropriate

    I wouldn't go into the fenced yard of anyone to deliver mail. The fence specifically signals that is not a place for non family members to go. It sounds like the carrier was going way above and beyond for a long time.

    Posted Mon, May 19, 11:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    And what does the fence signal to the meter reader?


    Posted Wed, May 21, 12:57 a.m. Inappropriate

    Funny you should ask. City Light showed up this week to tell me that they've been estimating my bill for a couple years because of my fence. They installed a radio meter that can be read remotely.


    Posted Wed, May 21, 9:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    Oh please. Good fences make good neighbors. Even the mail person needs to go inside fences to deliver mail to many homes, but if there is an incessantly barking dog inside that fence - why should the mail people or anyone else go inside that fence?

    Be serious Allison. You muffed this one.

    Bad dog! Bad! Nooooo bark.

    Posted Mon, May 19, 12:07 p.m. Inappropriate

    It doesn't look like anyone comes out of this with their gravitas totally intact, but there are some elements that are worth considering.

    Right now the USPS is in the middle of major changes. They are mandated in the Constitution -- in one of the most specific parts of the original text -- but they are getting shoved around by Congress, and by competition from private delivery services. As more and more business shifts online, the post office can become even more integral to the economy, but this will need some thought and some investment in their infrastructure.

    The model of porch delivery is being phased out in new development. Even single-family houses are being shifted from the mailbox at the door or at the end of the driveway, to a joint set of boxes at the end of the block. Rather than the letter carrier putting your box from Amazon behind your screen door, they will be putting a note in your mailbox asking you to come to the post office to pick up your package. If this model is going to work, we are going to need more access to the post office -- longer hours and/or better traffic flow inside the building.

    I'm surprised, though, at the lack of paperwork in Ms Krupnick's situation. I also work from home, and try to catch the letter carrier when I can, to ask questions or just let them know that we appreciate their work, but I would never assume that our conversations were a substitute for an official notice or query. If the post office did indeed have a hold on delivery, there should be some kind of paper notice involved. And yes, someone should deliver it.

    Otherwise, that's some catch there -- that Catch 22.


    Posted Mon, May 19, 9:43 p.m. Inappropriate

    Interesting that there is not one comment about the obligation of a dog owner to socialize and train the dog to behave when the mail carrier visits. I lived in the dog-abundant country of Germany for 8 years. Dogs are routinely encountered on public transportation (leashed) and unleashed in parks and on city streets. Dozens, every day would I encounter. Not in 8 years, NOT ONCE, did I experience or witness an aggressive incident between dogs and people or between dogs and dogs. German's live in a culture where personal responsibility for public behavior is taken seriously, and they're not afraid to tell you to your face if you're violating some code of that behavior. This has its drawbacks, for sure. But overall it's a huge plus for a background noise of pleasant living. Americans choose a culture that includes refusing to take personal responsibility for living in a social community and are much poorer for that.


    Posted Tue, May 20, 6:18 p.m. Inappropriate

    I stopped reading at "My dog barks at all of the strangers who ..." That's not responsible dog ownership.

    Posted Wed, May 21, 11:13 a.m. Inappropriate

    Crosscut needs more "Man Bites Dog" articles.


    Posted Wed, May 21, 2:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    The writer is a jerk.

    Letting her dog bark outside? Jerk.

    No compassion for mail carriers? Jerk. They don't know what dogs bark and what dogs (generally) don't.

    Oh no, she has to jump through hoops! Cry me a river.

    The self-righteousness and rudeness of many dog owners is astonishing.


    Posted Wed, May 21, 9:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    Crosscut seems to exist for ridiculous letter writing whines.

    This woman believes it's ok to allow her dog to bark at anyone? No matter whether you're in your own yard, or out and about - an annoying incessantly barking dog is annoying.

    Without knowing this dog, it's difficult to know whether the postal worker was correct, however, I chalk it up to SCORE ONE against the annoying incessant barking little dogs of the world.

    Posted Wed, May 21, 9:35 p.m. Inappropriate


    "My remaining neighbors and I periodically gather to watch and commiserate, as houses on our street are torn down and replaced by, what one taciturn old man calls “chicken coops.” Nobody remembers receiving any notice in the mail about the rezoning and we can’t recall any public hearings." -- Allison the barking dog owner

    Maybe they need to learn to use the internet, and the public City of Seattle websites and public announcements. That, and attend meetings.

    Public hearings announcements are not delivered via US Mail.

    Posted Thu, May 22, 12:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Seattle's city government does a terrible job of posting meeting notices on the Internet. It's pretty clear that they don't want any real participation until the very last act, when they hold the pro-forma public comment meeting. Citizen participation is a joke here.


    Posted Thu, May 22, 1:27 p.m. Inappropriate

    I'm tired of making 'appropriate noises' when people bemoan changes, but are not really serious about doing anything about it. Seems this essay suggests that folks are awaiting a 'good enough' payoff to move on to somewhere else.

    You can have the Land Use Notices delivered to your email inbox. http://web1.seattle.gov/dpd/luib/Default.aspx Sure, it is true that notification by USPS mail of those items that legally do require a comment period would be much better. Not everything requires notice, by the way, because it is utterly allowed due to the zoning. Enough is happening that includes variances, and administrative wiggle room, that its worth at least scanning the notices.

    It takes intention and a willingness to learn at least what the requirements are for one's zoning, if one has an issue with the process. Start here: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/default.htm

    Posted Thu, May 22, 7:17 a.m. Inappropriate

    News flash. You don't need to hold a public meeting every time someone does a tear down and builds a new house. Surprise - it's on private property. If they meet zoning codes it's a done deal. Now you want government interference with private property rights? That's a switch for the tea-baggers.


    Posted Thu, May 22, 3:24 p.m. Inappropriate

    "Alison Krupnick is a former world-traveling diplomat, turned minivan-driving Ballard mom and writer and the author of the blog Slice of Mid-Life "

    Another bored Mommy Blogger. The dog is probably the smart one.


    Posted Fri, May 23, 1:05 a.m. Inappropriate

    I am a dog owner and a dog lover. Allison Krupnick, and those who share her attitude of "My dog is perfect and so am I", are the reason many people want nothing to do with dog owners or their dogs.

    She and her dog should go to training school.

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