Being barked at, snarled at and even attacked and injured by dogs has been an occupational hazard for postal workers from the beginning.
But, to protect its letter carriers, Canada Post issued a nationwide reminder Monday, urging dog owners to keep their canine friends indoors or on a leash and at a distance when the neighbourhood postal worker approaches on his/her daily route.
“We’ve had three incidents in the Sault involving three of our carriers (being attacked by dogs),” said Pino Caputo, Canada Post local area manager, speaking to SooToday.
One of those incidents, Caputo said, was “significant.”
“That (most recent incident) necessitated time off work (for a letter carrier due to dog-inflicted injuries).”
“What we really want to do is to send out a reminder to the community,” Caputo said, the first of the three incidents happening in late March, the third and most significant last week.
Traditionally, the problem with some dogs harassing and/or attacking letter carriers ramps up in the summer months, Caputo said.
“(However) given the current situation with COVID, with the schools closing...more people are at home right now and they’re more apt to leave their dogs out and roaming. It goes for all carrier companies. We’re worried about them as well.”
“Respect your carrier. Keep in mind we’re still at work, delivering an essential service to you. Keep your dog restrained. If your dog needs to be outside, our rule is technically it needs to be restrained 25 feet away from your mailbox,” Caputo said.
“I think it’s a wise decision (for Canada Post to issue the reminder). Not every dog is friendly,” said Darren Robertson, Eazy Express delivery driver.
Eazy Express has a contract to deliver parcels for Canada Post, both locally and throughout northern Ontario in rural mail delivery and highway service.
“Usually a letter carrier knows the different dogs on their route, but there are occasions, especially with the housing markets the way they have been lately, where people are moving out and new people are moving in, they don’t know the new people who move in and they don’t know they have a dog, so I think it’s common sense for dog owners as well (to be responsible for their dogs).”
“I think every delivery company should be putting out some sort of disclaimer to the people they deliver to, to say we know you love your dog, but at the same time, if your dog is not familiar with our delivery person or has been trained to be a guard dog, if you happen to see us walking up the driveway with your mail or a parcel, please restrain (your dog).”
“There are times when I’ve had to not deliver a parcel. I couldn’t get there (to the front door) because I didn’t like how the dog was behaving and didn’t want to take a chance,” Robertson said.
Canada Post estimated 36 per cent of the millions of households it delivers to have dogs.
“As much as we love our canine pets, they are protective of their home and their family, and it’s impossible for delivery agents to know how any dog will react when they approach your home to deliver the mail. Dog incidents can range from encounters with threatening dogs to being attacked and bitten,” Canada Post’s reminder states.
“Please do not open the door during deliveries or allow your dog to approach our employees while they are out in the community. This makes it difficult to adhere to physical distancing when owners need to retrieve their dogs, and it increases the risk of dog bites. A way to prevent your dog from approaching our employees is to keep them in another room at the time of the delivery. Our delivery agents are also seeing dogs wandering in neighbourhoods, which can cause further anxiety. Please make sure your dog is restrained and has no way to roam free,” Canada Post wrote.
Canada Post is also asking customers to maintain their own distance from letter carriers during the pandemic.
“Everybody likes their carrier,” Caputo said from Canada Post’s Sault office.
“(But) if people cannot approach their carrier in order to respect social distancing (it would be appreciated).”
“The carrier is naturally going to criss cross with you in your walkway or driveway, you’ll say ‘hi’ to each other and you’ll save the carrier a couple of steps and take the mail, but we would rather just let the carrier walk up to the mailbox right now and deliver it, just to be safe,” Caputo said.
“The safety of our employees and the communities we serve continue to be our first priority. We also ask our customers to give our people more than two metres of space when you see them at the door, the community mailbox, the apartment mailroom or anywhere. We thank all our customers for their patience and understanding,” Canada Post wrote.