When a Pomeranian decides to go for the throat, well, the little dog usually has to settle for the ankle. But when that ankle belongs to the mailman, trouble ensues. For Inner Sunset residents Cheryl Switzer and Allen Koenig, whose six-pound Pomeranian, Sadie, nipped the mailman on Dec. 10, mail delivery to their home was abruptly cut off. Not only that: Switzer says an officer with the city's Department of Animal Care and Control even suggested over the phone the possibility of a vicious-dog hearing, routine procedure in cases of dangerous canines.
"They're treating me like my dog mauled him," Switzer says. "When they intimated that they may have to have a vicious-dog hearing, I was absolutely shocked. It's not like we own a pit bull."
But Sergeant Bill Herndon with the SFPD's Vicious and Dangerous Animals Unit says that with aggressive dogs, size doesn't matter: "Ever since Diane Whipple [who was killed in 2001 at her Pacific Heights apartment by a pair of Presa Canarios], any time a dog even looks at you sideways or you perceive a threat from any dog, you can request a hearing."
James Wigdel, spokesman for the San Francisco district of the Postal Service, reports that mail carriers in the United States have been killed by dogs, and in San Francisco several have suffered serious maulings. Carriers walk their routes armed with aerosol deterrents and are instructed to use their satchels as shields if necessary.
But in the incident with Sadie, the mailman had no time for recourse, so swift was the attack. The Pomeranian dashed onto the doorstep when Switzer opened the door to receive a parcel and bit the man's leg before dancing back indoors seconds later.
Mail delivery to the Switzer-Koenig residence abruptly ceased the next day. According to Wigdel, the U.S. Postal Service is required to officially notify residents if, when, and why mail service is to be postponed. And, true to procedure, the postal service did in fact notify the couple — by mail. For obvious reasons, the letter never arrived.
Switzer says that despite several calls, she had no luck getting delivery restored. However, a day after SF Weekly phoned a sorting facility in the Sunset District about the matter on Jan. 2, two Postal Service supervisors arrived at the Switzer-Koenigs' door with a stack of mail dating back to Dec. 20. Delivery resumed the following day, and, as it turns out, the Postal Service did not request a vicious-dog hearing, according to the Department of Animal Care and Control.
Postal officials asked only that the couple install an outdoor mailbox to ensure mail carriers' future safety from Sadie's maw, meaning no more free meals for this little tiger.