Island Fitness faces doggy drama

Island Fitness is a favorite hangout for many locals, but recently the gym was put in the doghouse.

The exercise center was informed that the U.S. Postal Service would cease delivering its mail unless it banned all dogs from visiting the gym.

A postal carrier recently complained after suffering a frightening encounter with a pet while entering the gym.

“There was a big dog there that really scared one of the carriers,” said Wardell Irick, a supervisor at the Winslow Post Office. “The dog lunged at her because it was so close to the door.”

Ever since the gym opened more than 10 years ago, patrons have tied their furry companions off to the side of the main entrance while they worked up a sweat. Over time, beds and water bowls popped up at the doggy area, which was separated from the entrance by a bench.

A Facebook photo album was even set up on Island Fitness’ page, showcasing all the furry friends outside the gym.

But when the carrier received the scare, the post office put forth an ultimatum: the dogs, or the mail.

“We had different carriers going there and the dogs could reach the door and they were afraid a leash would get broken by a dog and they would get bit,” Irick said. “It’s our policy that we don’t put carriers in any hazardous situations.”

The ordeal caused quite a headache for Island Fitness owner Michael Rosenthal.

“It was just getting crazy,” he said. “People were feeling offended and disrespected and all I wanted was our mail.”

On one hand, he wanted his mail. And on the other, he was losing customers over the dog issue.

“When we told people they couldn’t take their dogs, we lost members because people wanted to run with their dogs to Island Fitness and work out,” Rosenthal said.

The gym has established rules for the dog area that include no barking, keeping dogs behind the bench, and it requires that the dogs are friendly to both people and other dogs.

“What I wanted to do was identify the offending dog and disinvite that dog from Island Fitness,” Rosenthal said. “What ended up happening was that (the Postal Service) wouldn’t come here if there were any dogs.”

Rosenthal then attempted to compromise. He established a window of time when no dogs were allowed from noon to 5 p.m. but mail service was still disrupted.

Finally, he resorted to the current solution: a good old-fashioned mailbox. Rosenthal was hesitant to set up the mailbox because of the lack of security. Like any business, the gym processes payments through the mail. But Rosenthal hopes that the mailbox will put an end to the issue.

“It’s tough as a business owner to be in this position because we depend on the U.S. Postal Service and you can’t fight them. You need to get your mail,” he said. “We felt like we were making all the concessions and we still weren’t getting our mail.”

Rosenthal said that he felt there was a lack of communication with post office officials, but looks forward to getting back to normal.

“I’m just a guy that wants my mail,” he said.

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