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Columbus family upset after mail carrier reportedly sprayed dogs

USPS says mail carriers use a mixture of mineral oil and cayenne pepper in order to protect themselves from potential dog bites.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A Hilltop family is “irritated" after their three dogs were reportedly sprayed in their yard by the neighborhood's mailman.

Andrew Birk owns the three dogs - one lab mix and two chihuahuas. He said the dogs are pretty friendly, but can sometimes bark at people walking, and they live on a fairly busy street. 

When Birk noticed the gate that leads to Broad Street was left open, he said he went outside and met the mailman.

“After we brought the dogs in, they all had issues with their eyes, their eyes were swollen, they had clearly been sprayed in the eyes,” Birk said.

Birk said the mailman continued to spray even after he came outside.

“I mean I can understand in an extreme situation, the dog runs up, you panic, you mace a dog… but macing a chihuahua is definitely over the line and that irritated me pretty bad,” Birk said.

10TV reached out and asked USPS ‘is this allowed?’ A spokesperson with the agency said it is and carriers use a spray of mineral oil and cayenne pepper.

The postal service said their big concern is dog bites. The organization said one bite can cause a serious injury.

USPS sent this statement to 10TV:

“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... 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.”

The postal service advised customers keep dogs in separate rooms before opening the front door, as some will push through. According to USPS, if your dog is in the yard, make sure it's restrained on a leash when your mail is being delivered. And finally, you can track mail and packages in multiple ways to know when a letter carrier is on their way.

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