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Disturbing Delivery: Dead baby chickens delivered to feed store owner

A Port Arthur feed store owner said she is upset with a USPS mail carrier after her chicks were left in the back of an unair-conditioned mail car for 4-5 hours.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Warning: Some viewers may find the photos in the attached video graphic. 

A Port Arthur feed store owner is frustrated with a USPS Port Arthur mail carrier. 

Tina Bean opened Five Star Feed in 2001. Since opening she's had chicks delivered to the store with no major problems, until last week. She was horrified to discover half of the baby chicks in her order were dead upon delivery. 

"When I walked in I barely heard peeping, so I knew we were in trouble," Bean said. 

Bean spent 18 years working at the post office, and 15 as a mail carrier. She said typically, they'd call the customer, and the customer could choose to either have them delivered, or come pick them up. The hatchery ships them priority mail, and are delivered to the store one to two days later, at the most, Bean said. 

"We delivered the chicks first thing, because it is a live animal, especially in the summer time because the back of those jeeps get extremely hot," Bean said. 

For years, Bean said the shipments of baby chicks have arrived first thing in the morning. Last Friday, however, they were delivered at 1:30 p.m. The few still living chicks were barely hanging on, according to Bean.

The day the chicks were delivered, it was about 92°, with a heat index of 101°. She said they were left in the back of an unair-conditioned mail car for four or five hours. 

"Somebody dropped the ball somewhere, I mean common sense would, should tell you that if you have a live baby animal and it's 100 plus degrees outside that you don't leave them in a hot vehicle," Bean said. 

USPS Policy on delivering live poultry said they will deliver day-old chicks within 72 hours of the time they hatched. They just have to be sent in an unopened, ventilated hatchery box with the date and hour of hatching noted. 

In a statement to 12News, a spokesperson for USPS said they were made aware of the issue, and have apologized for the incident. They said it was resolved to the customer's satisfaction. They encourage anyone shipping chicks to mail them via priority mail express, or overnight. 

Thursday, Tina had another shipment of healthy chicks delivered first thing in the morning. She hopes to never have an incident like the week prior again. 

"It was just you know a cruel death for the chicks," Bean said. 

USPS Full Statement: 

The U.S. Postal Service is one of just a few carriers that ship live animals, and we have established procedures for the safe handling of live animals. In this instance, as soon as we were made aware of the issue, the Postal Service took immediate steps to research the matter. In addition, local management met with the customer, apologized for the incident and resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. As information, we strongly recommend that baby chicks be mailed via Priority Mail Express, our overnight mailing service. We always want to hear directly from our customers immediately when they have a delivery concern, and urge them to call the U.S. Postal Service's Customer Care line at 1 800-ASK-USPS or contact their local Post Office as soon as possible so that the issue can be looked into and addressed promptly.


For more specific information on the types of live animals that can be shipped via the U.S. Postal Service, as well as packaging and labeling information, please check our website: https://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_008.htm .   

USPS Mailable Live Animal Policy: 

The following live, day–old animals are acceptable for mailing when properly packaged: chickens, ducks, emus, geese, guinea birds, partridges, pheasants (only during April through August), quail, and turkeys. All other types of live, day–old poultry are nonmailable. Day–old poultry vaccinated with Newcastle disease (live virus) also is nonmailable.

The specific types of day-old poultry named in 526.31 are mailable subject to the following requirements:

  1. Poultry that is not more than 24 hours old and is presented for mailing in the original, unopened hatchery box from the hatchery of origin.
  2. The date and hour of hatching is noted on the box by a representative of the hatchery who has personal knowledge thereof. (For Collect on Delivery (COD) shipments made by a hatchery for the account of others, the name or initials and address of the hatchery or the Post Office box number and address of the hatchery must be prominently shown for this standard.)
  3. Box is properly ventilated, of proper construction and strength to bear safe transport in the mail, and is not stacked more than 10 units high.
  4. Day–old poultry is mailed early enough in the week to avoid receipt at the office of address (in case of missed connections) on a Sunday, a national holiday, or the afternoon before a Sunday or national holiday.
  5. Day–old poultry can be delivered to the addressee within 72 hours of the time of hatching.
  6. Day-old poultry sent via surface transportation, must include special handling service fees, in addition to regular postage.
  7. Day-old poultry sent via air transportation must meet all provisions of the airlines. Delivery of the mailpiece is dependent on the availability of air carriers having available equipment to safely deliver the day–old poultry within the specified time limit.
  8. Day–old poultry that is first shipped via a commercial air express or air cargo service and then presented for mailing to a final destination must be in good condition and properly packaged as specified in 526.32a-e.
  9. Boxes of day–old poultry of about identical size, securely fastened together to prevent separation in transit, may be accepted for mailing as a single parcel, provided the total length and girth combined does not exceed Postal Service limits.

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