Reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Dogs, bugs and birds attack posties

Staff have been attacked 1150 times in three years — by all manner of creatures.
Figures show dogs remain a postie's nemesis, clocking up 974 attacks over three years. Photo / Getty Images
Figures show dogs remain a postie's nemesis, clocking up 974 attacks over three years. Photo / Getty Images

They're up early rain, hail or shine and, of course, our posties have to battle their oldest foe - pet dogs.

But they also face attack from bees, wasps, weta, spiders, fleas, magpies, pukeko, poultry and even the odd cat.

New Zealand Post staff have been attacked by all manner of creatures 1150 times in three years - more than one attack every working day - statistics released to the Herald on Sunday show.

Data released by New Zealand Post under the Official Information Act shows that between November 2012 and October 2015, 150 posties were attacked or almost attacked by insects, 24 by birds and two by cats.

Of the 150 insect attacks, 53 caused "pain and discomfort", 19 required first aid and nine required treatment by a doctor.

Birds were implicated in 22 near misses, and twice caused pain and discomfort.

And although one postie had a near-miss in a run-in with a cat, another was not so lucky - experiencing "bruises or musculoskeletal pain".

But the figures show dogs remain a postie's nemesis, clocking up 974 attacks over three years.

One worker was forced to take 44 sick days after an infected bite required a skin graft and another received muscle and tendon damage from a dog bite to her leg.

Another postie was knocked to the ground and mauled by three dogs, needing 10 days off work to recover.

Another 90 experienced pain and discomfort after dog attacks and 53 needed first aid.

New Zealand Post spokesman Marty Buckley said staff received regular training on how to deal with dogs. A hazard register recorded properties with aggressive dogs. and dog rangers worked closely with staff.

"Our advice to dog owners is that they keep dogs secured and at the rear of the property. Letterboxes are best placed on the footpath side of the fence so the postie doesn't have to lean into the property to deliver mail," said Buckley.

"We take as many practical steps as we can, but at the end of the day, we're reliant on dog owners playing their part."

When animals attack

• Dogs: 974
• Insects: 150
• Birds: 24
• Cats: 2

Attacks on postal workers between November 2012 and October 2015

Mauled mail worker confined to desk

Bunty Hallett was attacked by a dog while working. Photo / Supplied
Bunty Hallett was attacked by a dog while working. Photo / Supplied

Bunty Hallett had completed her 30km round for eight years before a dog attacked her, damaging nerves and tendons in her leg and leaving her unable to cycle.

The 54-year-old Manawatu mum was on a run in July last year when a pitbull bit her. It was the fifth time a dog had attacked her on the job.

"I heard the dog bark, but I carried on, then I saw him come round from the back of the house at me," she said.

"I got off my bike and stood still so I could use it to shield myself, but he was so nimble, he came around it and grabbed my right calf."

She took seven days off work, and now has an administrative role. She said she missed doing her daily run "immensely".

She feels constant pain and discomfort in her leg and walks with a limp.

"We do get mauled a lot, posties. A lot of customers are good - they keep their dogs away from the front of the house, but you can't predict when someone's gonna visit."

- Herald on Sunday

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