Attacks on mail carriers nearly double in 18 years
EXCELSIOR, Missouri––Jamie Burnam, 49, the Amazon delivery driver killed by dogs in Excelsior, Missouri, on October 24, 2022, was known to fellow delivery drivers and Heartland Delivery Services dispatcher Neashya Wright for conscientious work, including safety awareness.
That did not save him from the German shepherd and English mastiff who made Burnam the record 58th U.S. and Canadian dog attack fatality of the year, tying the previous U.S. high of 56 dog attack deaths in a year.
Pamela Jane Rock
Burnam was attacked barely two months after five pit bulls made U.S. Postal Service delivery driver Pamela Jane Rock, 61, of Melrose, Florida, the 49th U.S. and Canadian dog attack fatality of the year. That would have been the record as recently as 2016.
Rock was mauled after her delivery vehicle broke down on August 21, 2022 along Walker Drive in Interlachen, Florida.
Both Burnam’s death and Rock’s death underscored the rapidly escalating vulnerability of delivery drivers to dog attacks.
Dog attacks on mail carriers have nearly doubled since 2004, according to U.S. Postal Service data, from 3,268 to 5,800 in 2021, roughly coinciding with the rate of increase in pit bull proliferation over the same time.
National Dog Bite Awareness Week
National Dog Bite Awareness Week, sponsored annually by the U.S.. Postal Service since 1956, parallel awareness programs sponsored by humane organizations, and even suspending mail delivery to neighborhoods where mail carriers have been injured by dogs have had no visible effect on the rising mayhem, which results chiefly from owners of large, aggressive dogs allowing them to run at large and/or rush up to visitors.
That an effective watchdog barks an alert to the owner, as opposed to dismembering the possible intruder, is a dog training and behavior lesson rarely shared since the first years of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, back then called Dog Bite Prevention Week.
Rock was killed about a mile north of where Ronnie Charles, 46, recovering from a 2015 major stroke, on September 2, 2021 suffered a seizure, was kicked repeatedly by his family’s own horses, and then suffered from neck and head trauma, massive trauma to his legs, and lost a finger when he somehow stumbled into a fenced enclosure holding four aggressive dogs, about one short block from the horses and a second short block from his home.
“Dogs doing what they were supposed to do”
“The dogs were doing what they were supposed to do, and that was protect the property and homeowner,” Putnam County sheriff H.D. ‘Gator’ DeLoach told First Coast News.
Rock “had one arm amputated before she passed and they had her other limbs in slings trying to save them,” niece Kaydee Richley told WLDV television news.
Neighbors recalled Rock to WJXT as “a sweet lady who left apples “in the mailboxes of horse owners and “would ask about your kid, how your kid was doing.”
Owner of pits who killed Rock neither identified nor charged
Neighbors described the pit bulls who killed Rock as an intimidating pack who roamed at large, raiding trash cans with impunity and on one occasion allegedly killed a neighbor’s Chihuahua.
Rock, like Charles, was attacked within DeLoach’s jurisdiction, but at last report the owner of the pit bulls who killed Rock had neither been publicly identified nor charged.
A University of Florida-trained dietician and nutritionist, Rock before joining the U.S. Postal Service worked for the Alachua County Health Department, Cromwell Health of Newton Grove/Spivey’s Corner in North Carolina, District 4 Public Health in LaGrange, Georgia, and the DaVita Kidney Care chain.
“One of the coolest people”
Jamie Burnam was equally fondly remembered. Posted the dispatcher Neashya Wright, “Rest easy, Jamie––one of the greatest personalities, guitar playing-est, delivery warrior-est., fast talking-est, coolest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. My heart & most sincere condolences go out to the Burnam family.”
To Burnam’s daughters Kaydence and Bayley, Wright said “Know that he loved you more than anything in the world. You were all he talked/thought about.”
Jamie Burnam, employed by ITC Service Group and Tires Plus Total Car Care before becoming an Amazon delivery driver, grew up the son of a truck driver, Glenn Lloyd Burnam, who died at age 71 on January 13, 2021.
“Veteran driver who trained new drivers”
Wright told Dave D’Marko of Fox2 News in Kansas City that Burnam “was a veteran driver, who trained new drivers on protocols of safe and efficient delivery,” DiMarko paraphrased.
Wright “wasn’t dispatching for him that day, but has questions how it took neighbors spotting the van hadn’t moved for hours to find that he died in an apparent dog attack,” DiMarko added.
Said Wright, “I’m there with a map in front of me and it shows me every move that [the drivers] make throughout the day.”
“Please please put up your dogs”
Since Burnam’s death, Wright mentioned, “We have a paw print system within Amazon that is now being added to every delivery that allows drivers to know to beware of a dog on that property.
“I want customers to understand that if they are expecting packages, please please put up your dogs,” Wright added. “We can reattempt a package delivery, but we can’t replace a driver.”
While Wright works for Heartland Delivery Services, Burnam worked for a different Amazon delivery subcontractor, Three Trails Delivery LLC of Kansas City.
“Dog toys in the yard”
Former Three Trails Delivery LLC driver Blake Adolphsen also questioned why Burnam was “lying there dying for two hours” without a dispatcher checking on his whereabouts.
“When Adolphsen picked up that same route for another employee months ago,” reported Andrea Klick of KansasCity.com, “he said he remembers seeing dog toys in the yard where the driver [Burnam] died, but no pets out.
“Then, as he opened the gate, he said they came through the dog door. Adolphsen said he could tell the dogs were aggressive, so he closed the gate and didn’t finish the delivery.”
“Amazon walks away scot-free”
Adolphsen told Klick, she continued, that “One time, he reported a bite after he went to the emergency room, but he said Amazon never followed up with him or reached out to his insurance company. Amazon reminds workers to not deliver packages if they feel unsafe, but Jones said drivers can lose out on weekly bonuses by not meeting delivery goals.
“These delivery service providers are small mom-and-pop companies that are barely holding above water anyway,” Adolphsen said. “When something as big as an insurance liability happens like this, they get hit with all the blame, and Amazon walks away scot-free.”
Adolphsen recommended that “Amazon should at least require customers to mark whether or not they have dogs on their property, rather than hoping they’ll add the information as an extra note for drivers,” Klick reported.
“I just feel like somebody needs to be held accountable,” Klick finished, “and at the end of the day it’s not going to fall on Amazon. That’s why they hire third-party contractors, because when things like this happen, they don’t want it to fall on them.”