(Canadian OH&S News) — A postal carrier was hospitalized on the morning of July 11 after two pit bull terriers attacked him while he was on his mail route in Laval, Que., just north of Montreal.
Le Service de police de Laval (SPL) received a call about the incident at 10:08 a.m. that day, according to police spokesperson Evelyn Boudreau. The mail carrier, who is in his 50s, approached a house with an open door on his route when the two dogs ran outside and bit him repeatedly, she added.
“He had been bitten on his hand and forearm, and the mailman was, after that, carried to the hospital for stitches,” said Boudreau.
Paul Vincelette, director of health and safety for Metropolitan Montreal with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), said that the carrier had initially called to the owner of the home from the driveway, asking for the dogs to be held back. “Because he knew they actually bite there,” he said.
“The two dogs, they came out of the home and barked at the letter carrier,” added Vincelette. One dog tried to bite the worker on the leg, while the other jumped on his arm and tried to bite the mail carrier’s neck. The carrier received 14 bites on the arm, Vincelette noted.
A neighbour tried to stop the attack by coming outside and yelling at the dogs, said Vincelette. “The dogs went after this woman, and when she saw the two dogs come to her, she just went back into her house and closed the door.” The postal worker then jumped into his car to be safe from the animals.
Police questioned neighbours in the area as to whether they had witnessed the incident and wrote four tickets for the dogs’ owner, totalling close to $700, for breaking Laval municipal bylaws.
“One of them was for not having the dogs held on leashes, so that was one ticket for $77 times two for the two dogs,” explained Boudreau. The other two tickets, for $271 each, were for owning a dog that had bitten a person.
Le ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec, the provincial government’s ministry for agriculture and fisheries, is also required to investigate the incident, and charges of criminal negligence are still possible.
SPL investigators obtained a warrant to seize the two dogs and did so on the evening following the incident. The pit bulls are currently being held at Le Berger Blanc, Laval’s central animal clinic, where a veterinarian specialist is evaluating their social behaviour and risk to people.
“He has 10 days to do his report,” said Boudreau, referring to the specialist. “His recommendations on the report can go all the way from ‘they represent no danger at all, you can send them back into the house,’ and all the way up to, ‘I recommend they be put down.’”
About 500 mail carriers are bitten by dogs while working every year in Canada, said Vincelette. He added that CUPW has health and safety programs designed to minimize injury from dog attacks.
“We have a spray,” he said. “We give to our letter carriers a spray to protect themselves, and we show them how to use it and when they have to use it. And we talk regularly with the letter carrier — we say, ‘Just be sure and don’t take any chances.’”
The union also speaks with mail recipients, asking them to keep their dogs away from postal workers, but this does not always work, noted Vincelette.
“All the people say, ‘My dog’s a good dog, he’s like a baby, he never does anything to anyone,’” he said. Yet the animals still attack sometimes. “They don’t like us.”