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SHARON Mailman-biting dog to be quarantined



Published: Tue, May 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The U.S. Postal Service has halted mail delivery until the dog is removed.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU

SHARON, Pa. -- The dog that bit mail carrier Marc Gargano as he was making his rounds will have to be quarantined for 10 days to be sure it doesn't have rabies.

Gargano, 40, of Hermitage, was bitten on both legs and in the groin as he stepped onto the porch at the home of John and Kim Gump at 610 McClure Ave. around 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

He was hospitalized for his injuries and was discharged Monday afternoon.

What's next: If the dog, a mixed breed, has its rabies inoculation, it can be quarantined at home for 10 days, said Kathleen Whiteman, chief warden for the Shenango Valley Animal Shelter, which has jurisdiction in the case.

It must then be taken for examination to a veterinarian, who must sign a form to be returned to the animal shelter certifying that the animal appears to be rabies free, she said.

If the owners can't produce the paperwork showing the dog has its shots, the animal will be impounded at the shelter for 10 days, Whiteman said. If it shows any signs of aggression, it will be destroyed and its brain examined for rabies, she said.

She said she will file a citation against the owner as a result of the attack, and that could draw a fine of $300.

Mail halted: Quarantining the dog at home is a problem if the Gumps want to keep getting their mail.

David Hochadel, Sharon postmaster, said mail service to their home has been halted as long as the dog remains there, though the family can put a postal box at the curb for delivery of their mail so no carrier has to go onto their property.

The Postal Service will cover Gargano's medical bills and lost pay and will encourage him to take private legal action against the dog's owner, Hochadel said.

Hochadel said two or three mail carriers are bitten by dogs each year in Sharon, but there are as many as one or two close calls each week.

Caught by surprise: Gargano, a carrier for 10 years in New Castle and two years in Sharon, said the dog caught him by surprise as he stepped onto the porch.

"He got me before I could get my [repellent] spray out. I had no idea he was there," Gargano said, noting that the dog was chained and may have been sleeping.

He's seen the dog before, he said, adding that he had warned the Gump family to keep the dog in the rear of the home because it was aggressive.

The Gumps couldn't be reached for comment, but Whiteman said the dog may actually belong to their son.

Coincidentally, this is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Gargano said. He was nipped once before, he said, by a dog in New Castle.

Whiteman said there have been a rash of dog bites in the Shenango Valley recently. The shelter has three offenders from last week in quarantine now, she said.




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