Don’t bite the hand that delivers the mail

West Australian dog owners are being urged to keep their pets secured following a surge in dog attacks on Australia Post workers.

Australia Post says the increase in incidents is partly due to their drivers delivering significantly more parcels, as well as a rise in pet ownership across Australia.

The number of dog incidents involving Australian posties has gone from 957 in the 2021 financial year to 1173 in the 2022 financial year.

Dog incidents involving posties per year from 2018 to 2022. Infographic: Australia Post

The Communication Workers Union’s Lisa Bahts says she did not always feel safe when working as a postie.

She says if she felt unsafe while delivering parcels, she was given the option to refuse a delivery, however, she would receive backlash from Australia Post if a delivery wasn’t made for the first time.

“There’s very little protection against dogs for posties,” she says.

Ms Bahts believes posties should get silent dog whistles to protect themselves.

Ms Bahts recalls a former Australia Post employee who was attacked by a dog that came running through a glass door as she tried to complete a delivery.

“She was extremely scared, and she thought she was going to be mauled. The dog just came out of nowhere.”

She says the former employee suffered some physical bruising and cuts and experienced a significant amount of psychological damage.

“She made a claim for psychological and physical damage but she was waiting for months while they sent her to an independent doctor that was paid by the Australia Post.”

Ms Bahts says the employee’s claim was pushed back for months before she got the help she needed.

“Payment for her medical support wasn’t provided until the claim was accepted.

“They tried to determine whether her psychological issues were caused by the dog attack or from underlying psychological issues.”

Lisa Bahts

Australia Post was approached for a comment, but did not respond to interview requests from Western Independent.

A Perth postie, who did not want his name to be published, and has been working with the Australia Post for two years, says he’s experienced multiple incidents with dogs.

A dog barking at a postie as he delivers a parcel. Photo: Stephanie Jacob.

“Dogs are territorial and can be very aggressive, I just have to be extremely careful sometimes.

“People tend to not realise that just because their dog doesn’t act generally violent around them, they can still be very hostile,” he says.

WA, QLD and NSW have had the highest amount of dog incidents throughout the year.

While the most common occurrences are in front yards, at front doors or letterboxes, some of these incidents also take place on footpaths or on the road.

Dog trainer Nikhil Saha from K9 Care Obedience Training in Fremantle says dogs might be okay with certain people but can be aggressive with strangers.

“The dog might not be socialised well with posties and they may not be used to them,” he says.

Mr Saha says it’s important to get dogs used to a range of different people.

He says when dogs are barking, it’s mostly based on fear. It’s not because they’re naturally aggressive.

“You get things like people in high-vis and uniforms and they can often present quite a different visual scenario for a dog.”

Categories: General