Dog attacks on Australia Post workers rising, ‘Our people are being hurt’
Posted On May 2, 2022
Australian postal workers are being attacked at a higher rate, with delivery staff regularly facing “traumatic” incidents.
Australia Post has reported more than 1173 incidents already this financial year, which is almost 400 more than the same time last year and an increase on the 957 incidents in total last year.
“It can sometimes be difficult to imagine that an otherwise friendly family pet might pose a risk to others, but the reality is that our people are being hurt or placed in danger on a daily basis,” Australia Post Executive General Manager Rod Barnes said.
“These incidents can be traumatic for our team members and have lasting effects not only in terms of physical injury but also their mental health.”
Around half of these happened on footpaths or on the road.
Posties and delivery drivers are also being confronted by canines at front doors, letterboxes and in front yards.
Staff are increasingly feeling unsafe while doing their jobs, with fear growing if there’s already been an incident at a particular location, Mr Barnes said.
“Even if a dog doesn’t bite it can cause a serious accident by running in front of a postie or driver in an electric delivery vehicle and that can also result in an injury to your pet,” he said.
“We’re really asking that people remember to shut their gates, keep their pets secured and help make sure our people can deliver their parcels and mail to them safely.”
‘A danger to someone just doing their job’
Motorcycle postie Tony Gadsby has spent more than two decades delivering mail and parcels. He was recently the victim of a dog bite while covering a new route
“It was unexpected so I didn’t have time to prepare, the dog just raced past me,” Mr Gadsby said.
The postie said he was in shock when the incident happened, which has had lasting effects for him.
“It has made me more vigilant going to doors,” he said.
“It’s common for people to say ‘it never bites’ but as a dog owner myself I know they can be unpredictable.
“I’d urge fellow owners to just take that extra moment to make sure their dog is not going to be a danger to someone just doing their job.
Tips for pet owners to help protect our posties
Veterinarian Katrina Warren said unknown visitors can cause fear in some dogs, especially if they feel postal workers are trespassing on their territory.
“The problem is the postie always comes back,” Dr Warren said.
“Your dog will bark at them again to make them go away but after a while your dog may up the ante and bark more, growl, lunge or even bite to ensure your postie really gets the picture.”
She said pet owners need to make sure this doesn’t become a “dangerous” habit and recommends putting their dog somewhere they can’t see or interact with postal officers.
“Do not allow them to run free in a yard or passage where they have access to people entering your property or can bark at people through a gate or fence,” she said.
The world’s rarest animals
She said owners should also leash their dogs and recommended using positive reinforcement to familiarise their pet with the local postie.
“Teach your dog that when the postie visits your property something positive will happen such receiving lots of treats from you for calm behaviour,” Dr Warren said.
“You can start training as soon as you bring a puppy home.”
Dr Warren said if your dog has already bitten someone or is showing warning signals such as snarling and growling, you should seek professional help from a veterinary behaviourist as soon as possible.