Australia’s dog owners have been urged to keep their furry friends in their backyards after the number of posties attacked while delivering the mail skyrocketed.
Postal workers were attacked more than 1000 times in the past year, with an average of five dog incidents every day across the country, Australia Post says.
That’s almost 400 more than the same time last year, representing a steep increase on the 957 incidents from the previous financial year.
“It can sometimes be difficult to imagine that an otherwise friendly family pet might pose a risk to others,” Rod Barnes, executive general manager of network operations, said on Monday.
“But the reality is that our people are being hurt or placed in danger on a daily basis.”
About half of all attacks happened on footpaths or roads. But they were also common at front doors, letterboxes and in front yards, with Queensland, NSW and Western Australia home to the most incidents.
Mr Barnes said the attacks were traumatic for postal workers and often led to physical injury and damage to their mental health.
“They may no longer feel safe delivering to locations where incidents have occurred,” 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.”
Veterinarian Katrina Warren said dogs could be fearful of unfamiliar visitors or consider posties trespassers on their territory.
“The problem is the postie always comes back, so 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,” Dr Warren said.
“If a dog is given the chance to keep rehearsing this behaviour, it will become a habit that can be difficult to break.”
Australia Post has launched an awareness campaign, ‘Even good dogs have bad days’, calling on owners to help keep posties safe.
Customers who are unable to secure their dogs can request for their mail and parcels to be left at a place through the Australia Post app or choose to use a free 24/7 parcel locker.