SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — No one seems happy along a short stretch of South Campbell Avenue between West Portland and West Bennett streets.
Door-to-door mail delivery was halted months ago because the letter carrier and some residents had concerns about several dogs.
Now there are concerns about just one dog. His name is Charley. I met him.
For about two months, residents of some 20 to 30 homes had to drive to the post office on South Glenstone Avenue to pick up their mail.
Finally, because postal authorities were still unhappy with Charley’s owner, Brian Davy, the Postal Service put in two cluster mail boxes with 26 total slots on a concrete slab one block to the east.
The boxes are on South Avenue on property owned by Asbury United Methodist Church, 1500 S. Campbell Avenue.
A 75-year-old woman who lives on the west side of Campbell, who did not want her name mentioned, certainly is not happy.
Her sister picked up her mail for her for two months.
Fortunately, she says, her sister pleaded her case and obtained an exemption to the delivery ban.
“I would love to have our mail service back,” says Christie Boaz, who also lives on the west side of South Campbell. She has never seen Charley cross Campbell.
“This block has been cut off because of this one person,” says Wayne Boaz, “The dog chases people down the street.
“I saw him out running by himself earlier today (Wednesday),” Wayne adds. “That dog should not be here.”
A dog in the fight even without the dog
The folks who live on South Avenue have not had their door-to-door delivery interrupted but they actually do have a dog in this fight.
Now, says Jeff Jackson, people from South Campbell park in front of his house, at the end of this driveway, as they pick up mail.
“They are pulling up right behind my driveway and I’m afraid I’m going to back into somebody,” he tells.
Why did they have to put it there? asks Claudia Underwood, who lives next to Jackson on South Avenue.
There’s a much better location, she says, pointing to West Bennett Street, where Utah Street dead ends behind the former Forest Institute Murney Clinic.
Underwood called her councilman, Mike Schilling, who left me a phone message regarding the Postal Service’s solution.
“It seems a little weird and arbitrary in some respects,” he said.
The delivery disruption is temporary, says Mark Inglett, spokesman for the Postal Service. “We are hoping these things get resolved quickly.”
Service will resume once Davy assumes better control of his dog, he says.
This saga started almost a year ago, Inglett says, with complaints about several dogs in the neighborhood.
The Postal Service first sent a warning letter to Davy in August. A second letter was sent.
A third letter announced that door-to-door delivery was ended and residents would have to get their mail at the post office on South Glenstone.
Davy, the dog owner, does not get a key to one of the slots on South Avenue because his dog is now Public Enemy No. 1, in the eyes of the Postal Service.
He now rents a post office box.
Members of the nearby church have called Animal Control about Charley.
“He has approached and threatened two of my staff on at least four different occasions,” says the Rev. Erika Gravely, pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church.
“The dog was growling and its hair was raised up,” she says.
She talked to Davy weeks ago.
“He said he was surprised that the dog was acting so aggressively,” she says.
“He said the dog would slip out the door and he told me he would be more mindful of his dog,” she says.
“He also said that the dog helped keep his house and his children safe,” she says.
“I don’t want to be seen as the villain here,” Gravely tells me. “My concern is safety not only for him but for the people who see this church as a safe place. We have hundreds of children who use our play area.”
Davy, 40, tells me he has rented the house where he lives for two years but has lived in the neighborhood for approximately 15 of the past 20 years.
The backyard does not have a fence.
Davy says Charley is 1½ years old and — in terms of breed — is an “American Whodunit.”
Davy calls Charley an “escape artist” who slips out the front door and that for a while he did not leash the dog when he went out.
Now, Davy says, he leashes Charley in both the front and back yards.
“We have been more diligent about it, we have taken care of the problem,” he says.
Still, he lets Charley out at night unleashed in the backyard for safety.
Davy says Charley once scared away someone trying to break into the house through his daughter’s window.
“He has never bitten anyone,” Davy says. “He is worth his weight in gold to us and is a valued member of the family.
“I feel like we have been kind of railroaded,” he tells me. “It’s as if they’ve been wanting to stop door-to-door delivery here for a while.”
Same dog problem; found solution
Springfield Animal Control issued Davy a citation April 25.
An Animal Control employee responded to a report of Charley “acting aggressive, barking and showing teeth.
The report states: “We attempted to capture the dog with no luck, dog continued to bark and bare his teeth at us.”
The report stated that the dog had reportedly been “aggressive toward elder church members.”
“A letter carrier also inquired if we had caught the dog as it had shown aggression toward him in the past.”
A few doors down, Mike Posenke, 49, said that two years ago the letter carrier complained about his dog.
Posenke and his wife, who unlike Davy own the house where they live, had a solution.
“We fenced our yard,” he says.
These are the views of News-Leader columnist Steve Pokin, who has been at the paper seven years, and over his career has covered everything from courts and cops to features and fitness. He can be reached at 836-1253, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @stevepokinNL or by mail at 651 N. Boonville, Springfield, MO 65806.