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Brooklyn residents upset after neighborhood dog maced by utility meter reader

Brooklyn residents upset after neighborhood dog is maced by utility meter reader
Posted at 10:18 PM, Mar 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 20:54:33-04

BROOKLYN, Ohio — Devan Blevins and Melissa Datko believe their dog "Luna" was abused and victimized by a utility meter reader who sprayed her with mace during a March 16 visit to their Brooklyn home.

Datko told News 5 their 3-year-old Labrador-Beagle mix couldn't have been a safety threat to the meter reader because Luna was behind a locked fence when the incident took place. She said the meter reader was already making his way to her next-door neighbors home when he sprayed Luna through the fence. Datko believes the meter reader was either from Cleveland Water or the electric company.

“That angers me, why if you’re reading a meter that’s over there on the side of the house, what business do you have coming back here," Datko said. “First of all you’re not on my property anymore, second of all I have a four-foot fence that is blocking you and the dog, so the dog is not going to come at you regardless.”

“But to mace her, for what? What was the purpose of that, you were already off my property. I don’t get it, you sprayed it in the air, okay. I don’t get it. Why? Again why?"

Blevins told News 5 Luna was in such distress after the incident she had to be washed down in the family bathtub.

"She was just rubbing her face on the floor and was scratching her snout and everything and was freaking out," Blevins said. "My grandmother had to pick her up and put her in the bathtub and was just running water on her face the whole time.”

“I feel so helpless, she didn’t do anything to deserve that.”

Brooklyn police confirmed it responded to the incident, tracking down the meter reader minutes later and asking him questions. According to the incident report, the reader admitted he sprayed Luna but sent the spray into the air and not directly at the dog. Brooklyn police reported they talked with the meter reader's supervisor, but so far there is no further investigation into the incident.

News 5 contacted the Cleveland Division of Water and the office of city utilities, which is now investigating the incident and pledged to give News 5 its policy on how meter readers are to respond to neighborhood dogs and when they are to deploy spray.

The Cleveland Division of Water later told News 5 its records indicate the meter reader was not from their agency.

News 5 will update this developing story as we try to determine who employs the meter involved in this case.

News 5 also contacted the U.S. Postal Service and Dominion East Ohio Gas about their employee dog policy, and under what circumstances they may be forced to use spray. Dominion told News 5 all employees who schedule home visits must first take extensive dog training, and the few employees who carry spray only use it as a last measure of defense.

USPS Cleveland Headquarters issued the following guidelines in response to our story:

The safety of our employees and customers is the number one concern for the Postal Service. Letter carriers use a repellent when they encounter an aggressive dog. It is a harmless mixture of mineral oil and cayenne pepper and the effects wear off in 10 to 15 minutes. It has been approved by veterinarians, the Humane Society, kennel clubs, and is registered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Aggressive and unrestrained animals are a serious issue. One bite can cause a serious injury; they are painful yet they can be prevented. We request all customers keep their dogs restrained during normal delivery hours to protect the safety of the letter carriers.

If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog in a separate room and close that door before opening the front door. Some dogs push through screen doors or plate-glass windows to attack visitors. Dog owners must keep the family pet secured. Never take mail directly from carriers in the presence of the family pet, as the dog may see this as a threatening gesture.

Carriers may assume, if they see no physical fence around a property, that the property is animal-free. This can be a dangerous mistake. Postal Service officials request that you keep your dog restrained or inside when the mail is delivered. Although the electronic fence may keep your dog from wandering, it does not protect your carrier, who must enter your property to deliver the mail. Even homes with curbside mailboxes may have oversized packages or signature-needed items that require the carrier to approach a doorstep and cross the boundaries of the electronic fence. This poses a serious risk to carrier safety.

Make sure your dog is properly restrained on a leash and away from where your mail carrier delivers the mail. If the carrier deems a residence unsafe because of an unrestrained dog, mail delivery service can be interrupted. When service is interrupted at an address or in a neighborhood, all parties involved will have to pick up mail at their local Post Office. Service will be restored once assurance has been given that the animal will be confined during regular delivery hours.

Meanwhile, Datko understands dog owners have an obligation to keep their dogs restrained, but believes Luna was mistreated and abused.

“Know your dog, keep your dog on a leash, keep your dog locked in the back in the yard," Datko said. "Meter readers I understand you have a job to do, I get that and I respect it. But I’m also asking you to respect my dog, she lives here, this is her house."