May 19, 2014

Couple accuses mail carrier of fatally injuring their dog with a rock

The mail carrier said, “I got me one,” and walked off on his rounds as Maxwell, a 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier, lay near death with a skull fracture and spinal injury, the dog’s owner says.

Police and U.S. Postal Service officials are investigating a complaint by a Meadowbrook area couple that a mail carrier fatally injured their Yorkshire terrier by hitting him with a rock.

The 5-year-old dog named Maxwell wandered across the street from his owners’ residence in the 3600 block of Hazeline Road about 11 a.m. Saturday, Maxwell’s owner, Lawrence Brown, said Monday.

Brown, 46, said he was in the garage and didn’t realize Maxwell was across the street when he heard a dog yelping in pain.

As he walked toward the street, Brown saw the mail carrier and asked, “What did you do to that dog?”

“He said, ‘I got me one,’ ” Brown said.

That’s when Brown realized that the injured dog was Maxwell.

“I asked him why he hit my wife’s dog with a rock, and he said, ‘I did what I had to do,’ ” Brown said.

A veterinarian at an emergency clinic told the Browns that Maxwell had a shattered skull and severe spinal cord injury and couldn’t be saved, so the dog was euthanized, Lawrence Brown said.

A Fort Worth police officer “responded to an animal cruelty report call” about 2:15 p.m. Saturday from the Browns’ address, said officer Daniel Segura, a police spokesman. “The victim told officers that the possible suspect was the mail carrier,” Segura said.

Police have talked to a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier’s supervisor, Segura said.

Police are not releasing the letter carrier’s name, and no arrest has been made, Segura said.

The postal service is investigating the Browns’ complaint, said Arlene Sanchez, a Postal Service spokeswoman for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“The postal service takes the issue of dog bite prevention very seriously,” Sanchez said by email. “We are saddened at the loss of the customer’s pet.

“Local postal officials are conducting a thorough investigation and will take appropriate action, as needed, pending the results. We understand that in this instance, the letter carrier was defending himself from a dog attack.”

City ordinance states that dogs must be “securely enclosed or confined to its owner’s yard by a physical fence.”

It also states: “If the dog is without a leash or not accompanied by the owner, it is considered unrestrained and is in violation of the restraint ordinance.”

The ordinance states that a dog is considered “dangerous” if the animal actually attacks someone or if while outside a fence, it causes someone to “reasonably believe that the animal will attack and cause bodily injury to that person.”

Lawrence Brown said he believes Maxwell got outside the yard by crawling through holes dug by dogs next door. Maxwell was playful, never aggressive and friendly with people of all ages in the neighborhood, he said.

The mail carrier has worked in the neighborhood for years, Brown said, and he was even friendly with him because they had a mutual interest in cars. Maxwell was never aggressive toward the mail carrier, Brown said.

Sanchez said letter carriers are trained “on how to remain safe while delivering mail in order to avoid dog bites and attacks; including backing away from a dog, not making direct eye contact with the dog, and not handing mail over to a customer — especially a child.”

Asked in an interview if mail carriers were trained to use deadly force to protect themselves, Sanchez declined to comment until the investigation is completed.

But, she said, “Postal officials will address this situation to ensure that letter carriers follow recommended actions to avoid dog attacks/bites in the future.”

It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Maxwell’s death coincides with “National Dog Bite Prevention Week, May 18-24,” which is co-sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. Other sponsors include the American Humane Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association.

As part of that effort, the postal service released rankings for 2013 on dog attacks on mail carriers by city.

Fort Worth ranked 16th of 30 cities on the list, tying with Cincinnati and San Jose, Calif. The three cities had 26 reported dog attacks, according to the postal service.

Topping the list was Houston with 63 attacks; Dallas was seventh with 45.

The postal service reported that 5,581 employees were attacked last year, according to a news release about National Dog Bite Prevention Week.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported that nearly 4.5 million U.S. citizens are bitten each year by dogs. Half are children.

A hard couple of days

Brown, who works on the assembly line at the Arlington General Motors plant, said a neighbor helped him with the injured Maxwell as the mail carrier continued down the street.

“The neighbor picked up the dog and put it in the bed of his truck while I went to get my wife,” Brown said. “When I told her the dog was dead, she was hysterical.”

But Maxwell was still breathing when Taiesha Brown reached him. She held him as Lawrence Brown drove to an animal hospital on Hulen Street.

“We’ve been married for six years,” Lawrence Brown said. “We don’t have any children. This dog was her child.”

Taiesha Brown, who works for the Internal Revenue Service, said the loss hit her hard.

“I haven’t eaten a lot, not sleeping a lot,” she said. “It’s the images in my mind, seeing him and knowing the extent of damage that was done when he struck him. The whole thing is heartbreaking.”

This report includes information from WFAA/Channel 8 TV.

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