Dog attacks scare postal workers away from hardscrabble coastal Georgia trailer park

Mail hasn’t been delivered since last year

By late last year, the defacement of mailboxes at Transvilla Mobile Home Park had already become a growing concern for the Brunswick branch of the U.S. Post Office.

Then the last straw came in December. That's when one of the office's postal carriers was severely bitten by an aggressive dog while delivering mail inside the mobile home park, located off Emmanuel Farm Road in Glynn County.

Mail has not been delivered to the hardscrabble community of 76 mobile homes since.

Transvilla residents now have to go to the post office at 805 Gloucester St. in downtown Brunswick to get their mail — residents like Juanita Vincent, who is 84 years old. The engine in her truck burned up over the summer, leaving her without transportation.

She gets her mail periodically, when her daughter visits from Jesup to take her grocery shopping.

"Can you imagine an 84-year-old woman trying to huff all the way down to the post office," Vincent said. "My daughter takes me in on Saturday morning. We get our neighbor's mail. The others, I guess, just don't get their mail."

Orlene Garcia, supervisor of customer services at the post office, sympathizes with the plight of Transvilla residents. But she said the prevalence of loose dogs in the mobile home park makes it unsafe for her mail carriers.

The mail carrier who was bitten remains off duty, nursing a torn ligament from the attack.

"The bite went right through her foot, and she still has not returned to work," Garcia said. "I can't have anyone else go in there and get bitten. There's no control in the park. In the meantime, until we can come up with a solution, we have their mail here."

Glynn County Animal Care and Control officials were not called to the incident and did not learn about it until several days after the fact, director Tiffani Hill said. The dog in question remains with its owner, she said.

The post office has proposed putting a bank of mailboxes near the mobile home park's entrance. That way the postal carrier can deliver all the residents' mail to one spot and without having to go inside, she said.

Such a setup would cost several thousand dollars, she said. The post office wants Transvilla's owner, Howard O'Quinn, to share the cost of setting up the new mailboxes.

Garcia said he has been less than cooperative. "I'm trying to see if he will go halfway on new boxes," she said. "They're expensive, and he does not want to pay."

Reached Thursday at his office located inside Transvilla, O'Quinn was noncommittal about contributing to the post office's proposal for mailboxes near the community's entrance. O'Quinn said he also had to go to the downtown post office to get his business mail.

"I don't have anything to do with the U.S. Mail," O'Quinn said. "That's their problem. But I think it might cause a traffic problem if you put the boxes out front. It's been a hassle. It's trouble for everybody. Some of these people don't have a ride into town."

Previously, the post office placed several stands containing multiple locked metal mailboxes that required a key to access. These mailboxes were often targeted by folks who no longer held a key but wanted to access their mail inside, Garcia said. Due to the transient nature of some of the mobile home park's residents, this happened quite often. And some of the damage is outright vandalism, which could be punishable as a crime since mailboxes are considered federal property.

"We caught one guy — he had a screwdriver with him and was trying to pop the lock," Garcia said. "He said, 'I moved out Friday and the owner took my keys away. My mail is still coming here, and I need my mail.' That's no excuse."

A drive through the mobile home park Thursday morning revealed at least two large puppies roaming free. A rottweiler mix was tied by a rope to a shredded tree stump in another section. At least one more dog was left tethered outside. At one residence, wood pallets and other wood scraps formed a small pen behind the porch steps for one otherwise happy mutt. A stand of dormant metal mailboxes inside the park showed visible signs of damage, including dents and a missing door.

With her daughter's help, Vincent started a petition drive last month to have mail service restored. They gained 53 signatures.

"It would have been more, but my daughter did not knock on doors where they had dogs on the porch," Vincent said.

Garcia hopes to find a solution mutually beneficial to both soon.

"I've been trying to scrounge up some boxes so we can put them at the entrance," she said. "That way they can get their mail and we can keep an eye on the mailboxes."

O'Quinn shook his head and shrugged. He also owns a storage unit down the road from Transvilla on U.S. 17.

He's also in talks with a company called Pioneer Communities that could result in the sale of Transvilla in the near future, he said.

It's a dilemma for all involved.

"You have some good people there who don't deserve this," Garcia said. "And you have the other half — that's the side we're having problems with."