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Postal worker uses tear gas on dog

Owner says use of tear gas on dog unwarranted

HIALEAH, Fla. – A Hialeah man said a postal worker used tear gas on his dog.

Barney, a 6-year-old Malinois, is the dog that Michael Rhoades said was sprayed in the face by a mail carrier Saturday.

"I come out and I say, 'Hey, did you just mace by dog?' because he was writhing in pain on the ground," Rhoades said. "And she's like, 'Yes, I did.'"

Rhoades said the mail worker's use of tear gas on his dog was unwarranted.

"They have every right to protect themselves, but when my dog's inside its yard, that's pretty much where her rights stop," Rhoades said.

The U.S. Postal Service said its carriers are only to use the repellent when a dog attacks and that indiscriminate use of it won't be tolerated.

"Last year, Postal Service employees nationwide sustained over 5,000 painful dog bite injuries," U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Debra Fetterly said in an email to Local 10 News. "The Postal Service's priority is the safety and well-being of its employees, including our letter carriers who deliver the mail. Local postal officials are investigating this matter and will take appropriate action as warranted."

Barney is doing just fine. Barney's owner said he's not looking for the postal worker to be disciplined or fired, but he wants her to take a different course of action next time.

"Safety has to come first, so if the mail is undeliverable because of an obstruction of a dog that may or may not be vicious, take a step back and say, 'You know what, they can collect it at the post office. I'm sorry,'" Rhoades said. "I would have been absolutely fine with that. She wouldn't have hurt my dog."

Rhoades has filed a police report and a complaint with the U.S. Postal Service.