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Dog attack investigation falls flat

Authorities say there is not enough evidence to investigate case involving U.S. postal carrier.

May 14, 2008|By Michael Alexander

Despite widespread media reports of postal investigators looking into whether a Huntington Beach woman sicced her dog on mail carrier and former Olympic swimmer Shirley Babashoff, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman said Wednesday there would be no investigation because there’s not enough evidence.

“No investigation is being done,” said Rich Maher, a spokesman for the postal service in Orange County. He said reporters had misinterpreted the words of a U.S. Postal Investigation Service officer who didn’t know the details of the case involving Babashoff.

“There was an incident report filed with the Postal Inspection Service, which is standard procedure any time local police are called for an incident,” he added. “The Postal Inspection Service, nor the U.S. Postal Service are looking into this.”

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Neither are Huntington Beach police, Lt. Russ Reinhart said.

“A report was filed last week,” he said. “I believe that’s as far as it goes.”

Babashoff of Fountain Valley called 911 last Tuesday saying she was hiding from the dog in her truck.

In her 911 call, she told a dispatcher a resident got angry as she approached the door to have her sign a piece of registered mail. She said the resident, Patricia Johnson, let out her black and white cocker spaniel and unleashed a tirade at her, authorities said.

But Johnson called the postal service and apologized, calling it a misunderstanding, Maher said. There isn’t enough evidence to look into criminal intent, he added.

“Hypothetically somebody could be charged with criminal intent to harm a carrier,” Maher said.

“A dog can be considered a weapon in that circumstance. But we don’t know that’s what occurred in this situation.”

As for Johnson, she’s unlikely to have another incident with her dogs on the property; she’s already moved and put in a change of address, Maher added.

Babashoff won eight medals in the 1972 and 1976 Olympics, including two gold medals.

Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.


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