Mastiff escapes from Charlotte home, attacks mailman

Published: Dec. 2, 2014 at 9:19 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2015 at 9:19 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte postal worker is recovering after he was attacked by a Mastiff Monday while delivering mail in the Plaza Midwood-area.

The incident happened along the 2800-block of Virginia Avenue.

The mail carrier was talking with someone inside a home in the area when a dog inside attempted to get out of the home, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Animal Care and Control.

That's when the dog, a 4-year-old Mastiff, came around the back of the home and attacked the mailman.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) says Christian Sparks, an 11-year postal veteran, suffered injuries from the bite and required more than 20 stitches. Sparks was treated at the hospital and later released.

"He will be able to return to work – after some much needed rest," postal officials said.

Animal control officials say the Mastiff does not have a previous history of incidents and was up to date with rabies vaccines.

The dog's owner was out of the country when the attack happened, but was able to be contacted as he was coming back through U.S. Customs to get back into the country.

Now that the dog's owner is back, Animal Care and Control says the dog will undergo a ten-day home quarantine as it is monitored for any signs of rabies.

News of the incident shook some people in Plaza Midwood who posted about the attack on social media sites like Facebook and Nextdoor to warn their neighbors about the dog.

"We do appreciate the concern obviously expressed on social media regarding the health of our carrier," officials said.

Postal officials say Charlotte ranks high among mail carriers being attacked by dogs while on the job.

Last year, 5,581 postal employees were attacked by dogs nationwide.

In May, Charlotte was named in a Top 30 list for dog bites in a survey put out by the USPS. The Queen City ranked at number 17 on the list with 25 reported attacks. It was Charlotte's second consecutive year in the top 30.

Charlotte Postmaster Le Gretta Ross-Rawlins is not pleased with that statistic. She and the managers in Charlotte consistently remind postal employees how to protect themselves from harm when they encounter dogs on their routes.

"Although our employees are well trained and given tools to defend themselves, the Postal Service must rely on customers to help, too," officials said.

If you have mail or packages delivered to your front door, you are asked to place your dog in a separate room and close the door before opening the front door.

"Dogs have been known to burst through screen doors or plate-glass windows to get at strangers," USPS officials said.

They also warn that dogs are often protective of small children and say children should not take mail directly from letter carriers in front of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

"If a letter carrier feels threatened by a vicious dog or if a dog is running loose, the owner may be asked to pick up the mail at the Post Office until the carrier is assured the pet has been restrained," postal officials said. "If the dog is roaming the neighborhood, the pet owner's neighbors may be asked to pick up their mail at the Post Office as well."

The Mastiff in this incident was current on its rabies shots, according to Animal Care and Control, making things a little easier for the dog to return home.

The department reminds dog owners that it hosts a rabies clinic once a month, where it provides free rabies vaccines to animals. The clinics are held on the second Saturday of every month from 7 - 11 a.m.

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