Pandemic dogs blamed for rise in postal worker attacks

Dogs may have been great lockdown buddies, but they’re being a menace to one group of frontline workers.

The number of posties attacked, harassed or chased by dogs is rising significantly, according to Australia Post data released on Thursday.

There were 1885 incidents involving dogs and posties in the nine months to March, surpassing the 1587 recorded in the entire 2021-22 financial year.

Australia Post blames some of this increase on the more than one million additional dogs brought into Australian households after demand for ‘pandemic puppies’ soared during the first three years of COVID-19.

New South Wales experienced the highest number of dog versus postie incidents between July 2022 and March 2023 (numbering 655 when combined with the ACT), followed by Queensland (555) and Western Australia (329).

Australia Post data identified the following areas as having the highest number of dog incidents:

  • NSW: The Nepean, New England and Hunter regions, Wollongong, and the Sydney suburbs of Alexandria and St Leonards
  • Qld: Darra, Bundamba and Toowoomba
  • WA: Palmyra, Geraldton and Rockingham.

Every year, more than 300 posties receive medical attention and some need surgery, out of more than 1000 posties attacked by dogs.

Susan Davies, general manager at Australia Post people and culture, urged dog owners to secure their pet inside the home or in the backyard to protect posties and the broader community.

“Dogs off leash or escaping their yard and chasing down our posties, often along busy major roads, are of particular concern given the safety implications not only for our delivery personnel and the dog, but also those in the community,” she said.

“We’re seeing increased instances of our posties sustaining injuries by either falling off their vehicles while trying to avoid unrestrained dogs, or getting physically attacked by dogs jumping up and biting them.

“We want our team to be able to safely deliver to all Australians, so urge dog owners to please secure their dogs in the backyard or indoors.”

Tips to keep your dog secure

The front gate, letterbox, footpath and front door are where most dog incidents occur.

To reduce the risk of dog attacks, some recommendations from Australia Post and RSPCA New South Wales include:

  • Always keep your front gate securely closed
  • Where possible, secure your dog in the backyard rather than the front garden, and keep any side gates securely closed
  • If you are expecting a delivery, be careful when opening your front door to ensure your dog doesn’t run out from behind you; keeping them in another room when you answer the door would prevent this
  • Distract dogs with treats, chews and toys when a delivery is due.

Taskforce to tackle dog attacks

To curb the rising number of dog attacks, Australia Post recently established a Cross Industry Dog Safety Taskforce.

Some of the organisations contributing to the taskforce come from the supermarket, telecommunications and logistics sectors.

Under the taskforce, the postal service will work with other organisations who deliver to, or have a need to service, homes and share insights on how to prevent and avoid dog attacks.

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