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Mail workers postal over Springfield Gardens dogs

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Two months after the U.S. Postal Service suspended mail delivery to 35 homes in Springfield Gardens because a resident's dogs attacked several letter carriers, service still has not resumed.

Residents of a block that straddles Rochdale Village and Springfield Gardens must still pick up their mail from the post office by asking clerks to open what has become known as the "dog mail" file.

Delivery to homes on 119th Avenue between Marsden Avenue and Ring Place was halted after the dogs bit letter carrier James Grosso Nov. 13 and attacked his replacement the following day.

Neighbors say the four dogs, owned by retired teacher Rhonda Hargrave of 168-22 119th Ave., have terrorized the neighborhood.

"The post office's decision has not changed," said Tom Daniels, customer service coordinator for the Jamaica postmaster. Delivery will not resume until the dogs' are removed from the house, which Hargrave rents from the New York City Housing Authority.

Daniels said the Postal Service is doing the block residents a service by providing free mail pickup, which normally would have cost hundreds of dollars .

"This is up to the block community to solve," Daniels said.

Bill Marder, a Housing Authority spokesman, said the agency is also pressing for the dogs' removal because it forbids dogs in its homes.

Marder said Hargrave contacted the Housing Authority and said she got rid of two of the dogs, including the black German shepherd named Onyx that neighbors say is the most dangerous.

But a Times/Ledger reporter who went to the house and knocked on the front door this week was startled by three dogs that snarled, bared their teeth against a window and banged against the door as if to break it down.

Hargrave could not be reached for comment.

Marder said both police and officers from the Center for Animal Care and Control have visited the block but lack the authority to remove the animals.

"It is very hard to get rid of the dogs unless they catch them off the leash," said Marder. "You can't just go into someone's house and remove animals - this is America."

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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