Amazon driver found dead killed by dogs, police say

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An Amazon delivery driver was found dead in Missouri after a suspected dog attack Monday night.

The delivery man was dropping off packages at a home in Excelsior Springs, Mo., an area outside of Kansas City, when he was apparently attacked and killed. Authorities were investigating whether two dogs that lived at the home and whose owners were out of town could be responsible.

Deputies found the man’s body outside the home, with what looked like bite marks “all over his body,” Ray County Sheriff Scott Childers said.

Childers said he shot and killed the two dogs, a German shepherd and a mastiff, after they behaved aggressively.

The delivery driver was about 50 years old, Childers said. Authorities are waiting to identify the man until the medical examiner has determined the cause of death and notified the man’s family.

“We are deeply saddened by [Monday’s] tragic incident involving a member of our Amazon family and will provide support to the team and the driver’s loved ones,” Amazon spokeswoman Lisa Levandowski said in a statement.

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Dog attacks are commonly reported by delivery workers, but usually result in injury, not death.

In 2021, more than 5,400 postal workers were attacked by dogs, according to the US Postal Service. Kansas City, Mo., had the third-highest number of attacks on mail carriers, with 48 attacks last year.

And an insurer in Colorado found dog bites to be the third most common injury among Amazon delivery providers there, according to a 2022 injury data study by the Center for Strategic Organizing, a coalition of trade unions.

Bites sent a ohio driver in the hospital in August, drives a driver this summer to post a video on TikTok about the company’s alleged response to its bite, and once brought Amazon to suspend deliveries in a Florida neighborhood where a worker was assaulted, according to news reports.

The Postal Service recommends having dogs inside the home, behind a fence or on a leash when a mail carrier comes to the house, and tells residents to track packages or mail so they know when it’s delivered.

It’s normal for dogs to worry about strangers in their space, and even dogs with no history of aggressive behavior can become protective or cause an accident by being playful, so all dog owners should take precautions to protect factors, said David Rosengard, managing attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

“We, all of us who have dogs, need to groom them for success,” he said.

Owners should have a place where packages are to be delivered that are not accessible to their dogs, whether it is a porch, safe or other drop-off area, and keep the dogs inside when a delivery arrives. If necessary, they must obtain a post office box.

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It was late afternoon or early evening Monday when the Missouri worker dropped off a package at the house, which authorities later found near the front door. Police have yet to find any neighbors who saw or heard anything unusual, Childers said.

The house had a fence with a locked gate and “Beware of Dogs” signs. It also had a dog gate that allowed dogs to freely enter the fenced yard, the sheriff said. Neighbors’ houses are located on either side and across the street.

A few neighbors noticed the Amazon van that had been sitting outside the house for two hours and reported it to the police around 7 p.m.

When deputies arrived about half an hour later, they found the driver’s body lying in the grass in the middle of the yard, Childers said.

“It’s tragic all around,” Childers, who had spoken with the man’s family, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The loss of human life is obviously the most important thing. It’s horrible to see that. … It’s heartbreaking.

Deputies found the dogs behind the fence of the house, which had a locked door. The dogs behaved aggressively, with the mastiff appearing ready to attack a deputy, Childers said; the deputy shot the dog and both dogs ran into the house.

When the medical examiner and detectives arrived to begin the investigation, Childers said he entered the house and found the dogs, who again responded aggressively, baring their teeth. He estimated that the Mastiff weighed around 80 pounds and the German Shepherd around 50.

Childers decided to kill them, citing the need to protect law enforcement and medical personnel entering and leaving the house, the potential risk of the dogs escaping the house, and the difficulty of locking them in a room.

“I had to make a quick decision because I had people come on the scene really quickly,” Childers said. “But also, I can tell you that due to the nature of the case, the dogs would have been put down anyway. It was inevitable.”

After a dog bites someone, a court usually determines through legal process whether the dog should be considered dangerous. A judge can order an owner to take actions such as muzzling or restraining their dog or ordering that the dog be euthanized, said Rosengard, the attorney.

In a case where a dog killed a person, a court could “very well” conclude that the dog should be put down, he said.

Encounters between dogs and police are so frequent that the Department of Justice publishes guidelines for law enforcement agencies.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to be shot by law enforcement officers, and courts usually allow it if the use of force is deemed reasonable, Rosengard said.

“Their question is not so much one or the other of these dogs [kill the man]…the question is just, would any reasonable officer in this yard at that time believe that these dogs were a threat?” he said. “And if the answer is yes, the court is probably going to say it’s a reasonable use of deadly force.”

Although dog bites are fairly common, particularly among postal workers, police and others who come near homes, a murder is unusual, he said.

Relatively few states require dog training for police; Meanwhile, social media coverage of fatal encounters between police and dogs has sparked heightened public interest, with some dog owners calling for increased training in recent years, according to a 2019 Department of Justice report.

The sheriff said he loved animals and knew people would question his choice.

“There are things about this job that we have to do that we don’t always like, but that’s part of what we have to do,” he said. “You try to make all the right decisions.”

Childers said his office has spoken with the owners. No criminal charges have been filed against them, although they could face charges if authorities determine one of their dogs attacked the man.

“There are still a lot of investigations to be done, and I think this case is really going to raise a lot of questions,” Childers said. “Obviously, owners have the right to have animals that can protect themselves and their property… [but] it was just a man trying to do his job who lost his life.

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