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Letter Carrier recounts vicious dog attack

March 21st, 2005, 07:06 PM
Here's one from Ingersoll Ontario:

Dateline: Ingersoll

Dog is to man what dangerous dog legislation is to mailman: his best friend.
In a move that should make letter carriers happy throughout Ontario, the government will soon make its new dangerous dog legislation law.

The legislation could see owners of aggressive dogs fined up to $10,000 or spend six months in jail.

Unfortunately, Tom Creech, a communications officer for Canada Post, says dealing with dangerous dogs is part of the job for letter carriers.

"We support any means of increasing the safety level of our employees on the street," Creech said.

The bill also includes a ban on pit bulls, which Creech said Canada Post is taking a wait-and-see attitude on.

However, Ingersoll letter carrier Dave Norrie said the pit bull ban wouldn't keep him any safer.

And with 23 years experience as a letter carrier with Canada Post and five dog attacks while on duty, he's somewhat of an expert in the field of aggressive dogs.

"I don't know if you can put it into one category," he said. "Any dog can attack you."

He would know. Norrie was recently attacked by a boxer-type dog while on his route. Norrie recounts the story, saying he's never encountered a dog like this one.

"I thought 'I'm going to have to kill this dog or it's going to kill me'," he recalled.

After making a routine delivery and being well down the block, the dog charged and jumped on him. Norrie fought and fought, but every effort was in vain against the relentless dog. It just kept attacking. Norrie fought from his hands and knees.

Even the owners hollering, a shot of pepper spray in the eyes by a police officer and another shot from the spray he was carrying weren't enough to keep the dog down.

It just rubbed its eyes in the snow and attacked again.

"This dog, it's just like it was coming to get me."

Finally, the owners, with an extension, got the dog off and back into their house.

And his case is not uncommon. That's why all letter carriers get special training, such as:

- reading dogs' body language and how to react to it;

- using their letter bags as a barrier between their body and the dog; and

- using pepper spray, should the situation warrant it.

"The spray is signed in and signed out at the end of every day," Creech said.

While some carriers use treats, Creech said Canada Post doesn't recommend it.

"A dog can become acclimatized to receiving a treat from the carrier," Creech said. "If a relief carrier isn't carrying doggie treats, the dog may view that carrier as a threat."

Ultimately, he said the responsibility lies with the owner to ensure the encounters never happen by properly securing their dogs.

Norrie noted a pit bull ban wouldn't have helped him in his most recent attack.

He credits his training and his thick winter clothing as reasons he was only bruised and not bloodied, or worse.

"If it had been summer, I would have been torn apart."

But he carries on with his regular duties and still delivers to the house where he was attacked. But he said the attack was an eye opening and frightening experience.

"I'm just waiting for the dog to come again -- but I'll be more prepared this time," he said.