INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The mail carrier in a viral dog chase video at the center of an Indianapolis man’s tort claim against the United States Postal Service (USPS) spoke Friday in an exclusive interview with News 8.
Isaiah Pierson, a USPS mail carrier based at the Eastgate Post Office on the city’s east side, serves approximately 500 customers on his daily route.
He often encounters unexpected dangers and “a lot of mischief” while delivering mail, he said.
In Sept. 2019, two unleashed dogs escaped their owner’s yard and began chasing Pierson while he was working in the 700 block of Melvenia Street.
Video recorded on a neighbor’s home security system shows the mail carrier tossing a handful of envelopes in the air and sprinting up a driveway with the pit bull-type dogs in hot pursuit.
The footage shows Pierson leaping onto the back of a truck, swinging his legs over the side of the vehicle and resting his feet behind the cab in an apparent effort to escape the dogs.
“I was thinking, ‘Get out, fast as you can [and] get away,'” he told News 8. “Looking for the first thing that I can clear to get the dogs off my back.”
Marcus French, the owner of the Dodge Ram 1500, claimed the incident caused dents and paint damage totaling approximately $4,500.
The USPS denied a property damage claim filed by French under the Federal Tort Claims Act, citing a city leash ordinance violated by the dogs’ owner.
The owner could not be reached for comment.
French spoke in an exclusive interview with News 8 days after receiving notice of the determination in March, nearly six months after submitting the claim.
Pierson said friends and relatives bombarded him with phone calls and text messages after recognizing him in the security video provided to News 8 by French.
“It was pandemonium on my end [after News 8 aired that report],” Pierson said. “Phone going crazy all day. I’ve never experienced anything like that.”
He publicly identified himself as the mail carrier in the video after realizing he had an opportunity to raise awareness of risks facing all delivery workers, he said.
Pierson, a former pizza delivery driver, began his career as a postal worker in 2014.
He spent the majority of his USPS career serving the east side of Indianapolis, where he grew up, attended school and is raising his own children.
His parents still live in the neighborhood, along his carrier route.
“Just be aware [of mail carriers and other delivery workers],” Pierson urged community members. “Be cognizant. We do have people we have to go home to. We’re part of the neighborhood, just as you are.”
Residents frequently violate the city’s leash ordinance, he said.
In 2018, more than 5,700 postal workers nationwide were attacked by dogs, according to the most recent figures from the USPS.
Dog owners can be held liable for medical expenses, repayment of lost work hours and uniform replacement costs — which can total thousands of dollars — when their dog attacks a mail carrier.
Pierson remains passionate about his career despite the risks, he said.
He had a set of wings tattooed on his ankles — a symbol of Greek messenger god Hermes — when he became a full-time mail carrier.
“I’m here for a reason,” Pierson told News 8. “I kind of see myself as a ‘messenger god’… Delivering the mail is part of that message.”