DAVENPORT -- A group of Davenport residents who have not had mail delivery since late May plan to petition the Davenport City Council to remove a neighborhood dog that bit a mail carrier.
The petition asks for removal of the dog that bit the carrier on May 29 and was returned to its owners after it was quarantined.
Postmaster Anthony Harris notified residents June 4 about the dog bite in the 2000 block of Linwood Avenue.
“The dog was not contained by a leash, fence, or door,” the letter says. “We take the safety of our carriers very seriously! As a result, we have curtailed delivery to your block.”
Harris said residents could pick up their mail at the Main Post Office, 933 W. 2nd St., Davenport, and that the area may be given a neighborhood delivery collection unit box instead of home delivery. He added more than 100 postal carriers have been attacked by dogs in the Davenport district or had slip, trip or fall injuries while avoiding an attack.
Shirley Sanders is a retired Rock Island mail carrier who lives in the neighborhood. She was bitten several times as a carrier, she said.
“I’ve been a neighbor here for 23 years. I think it’s ridiculous,” she said. She and other neighbors plan to go door-to-door with the petition. “I don’t know why they can’t cut out that (particular house) and give us back our mail delivery. We’ve got a lot of elderly people along this street. They don’t want to walk down to a box and get their mail in the winter time.”
The letter informing the neighbors was included in the mail held at the post office, said neighbor Chris Ullrich, who lives on North Linwood Avenue. “They put the notification letter in our held mail. I’m still not getting mail,” she said. “Why are we being punished for someone else’s neglect?”
Post office: 'You have to provide a safe environment'
Harris said he empathizes with neighbors, but postal carriers have been bitten on roads including Farnam, Linwood, Lincoln and Eastern this year. All required medical treatment. “It is my understanding that the dog, or at least one of them, has been returned to its owner," he said. “If you get punctured, you have to go see a doctor. There’s a possibility of tetanus, of the dog having rabies."
He said dogs sometimes are deemed vicious and are put down. But sometimes they are quarantined and returned to their owners.
“My concern is the safety of my employees,” Harris said. “People that leave their dog unrestrained, who aren’t on leashes, who don’t comply with city ordinances, who put their mailboxes inside their fences, then they want us to make delivery to those houses. Then everyone is impacted. When my employee comes here and gets hurt, there is an impact."
He said neighbors should alert animal control if a dog is out.
“If you want us to come into your neighborhood you have to provide a safe environment," he said. “This is a serious issue. Until the pet owner takes responsibility for it, then it’s going to be a sore spot."
Health Department: There is a procedure for animal bites
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Ann Jepson, public health nurse with Scott County Health Department, said Iowa law, as well as city and county codes, requires anyone with knowledge of an animal bite to report it to law enforcement, the Humane Society or the health department. Physicians and school nurses also are mandatory reporters.
The Times has requested dog bite data, including information from the May 29 incident, from Scott Emergency Communications Center and the City of Davenport, and was told it would take time to compile.
“Either law enforcement or an animal control officer talks with the victim to gather information about when it happened and what was going on when it happened," so they can determine if the bite was provoked or unprovoked. Someone also needs to verify the break in the skin.
If the animal's owner can prove vaccination, it can be quarantined at home, Jepson said. But if the animal is a stray, animal control officers blitz the area looking for an animal that fits the description.
“They usually do capture it," she said.
The animal is then taken to the Scott County Humane Society, which runs animal control for Davenport, at least for the next month. There, the animal is quarantined and observed for 10 days.
“We know at the end of the 10-day quarantine, if it had rabies when it bit, it will be dying or dead. If it’s healthy at the end of the 10-day quarantine, we know it didn’t transmit rabies when it bit,” she said.
If the animal becomes sick during quarantine, it is euthanized, she said, and its remains are sent to a state lab for rabies testing. “If it’s positive, the individual needs to start rabies prevention treatment immediately,” Jepson said.
If the bite came from a stray animal that is not quarantined, the victim will usually start rabies treatment right away, she said. Sometimes, dog owners hide the animal because they think someone’s going to kill it, Jepson said.
Pam Arndt, executive director for the Humane Society of Scott County, said more animal bites generally occur in the summer than other times of the year.
Alderman: 'The city is allowing this to happen'
Davenport Fourth Ward Ald. Ray Ambrose has received calls about the situation and regularly sees dogs running loose.
“This is happening in two different neighborhoods in my ward,” he said. ”There’s a leash law. You’ve got to have your dog on a leash when you’re in public. The good owners, it’s not an issue with them. It’s the city allowing this situation to happen. I’ve been a hardliner on vicious dogs.”
If the current ordinance isn’t working, “We better get the ordinance changed,” he said. “The city hasn’t addressed the issue.”