In four years, the agents of La Poste have been victims of no less than fifty dog bites during the distribution of mail. This Thursday, about sixty postmen were trained by a behavioral veterinarian.
“When you arrive in a street, the first dog often gives the alert to all the others…” “When the dogs are free, sometimes several, inevitably there is apprehension. What attitude should we have? » With nearly 400 households visited daily during their rounds, the postmen of the Tarb area regularly have to deal with the canine risk, present in one out of two households. Meetings sources of concern but also accidents at work, with no less than 50 bites recorded in the ranks of the postmen of the Hautes-Pyrénées over the last four years. “This is one of the main causes of work accidents for postmen, sums up Olivier Marçais, in charge of communication at La Poste. In France, 2,000 are bitten each year, resulting in trauma and sometimes long absences since two thirds of these attacks cause leg injuries. »
Always be alert
In an attempt to prevent this risk inherent in the profession and its imagination, La Poste has organized training sessions for its postmen. In Tarbes, about sixty of them thus passed between the legs of Béatrice Laffitte, behavioral veterinarian, helped by Delphine, but also by Pipo, Cherkan and Maïden, for a more practical phase after an initial theoretical training. “The idea is to prevent canine attacks for this very exposed population, presents the specialist who followed a postman on his rounds to better appreciate the recurring difficulties. You pass every day at the edge of the territory. This leads to aggressive reactions from the dogs which go crescendo over repeated passages. In spite of themselves, postmen are a public that activates and annoys dogs, whether they are particularly aggressive or dangerous, or not. »
The veterinarian then details the right methods for approaching a dog, without ever going frontally, or from above, or exposing his calves or his arms, or raising his voice. “The idea is first to understand how the dog works, for example its three-dimensional view which makes us look extremely large. It is a question of having the least invasive and unpleasant behavior for the dog, continues Béatrice Laffitte. The ideal is to have a relaxed but vigilant approach. Whether there is the master or not does not change anything, because dogs do not control themselves. Even nice, they are not educated. The problem is often to maintain this vigilance throughout the tour. It is not easy to avoid the routine. “And the specialist to invite the factors to ask the customers to come to them to limit the contact with the dogs. “It is also important that there is an exchange between the factors on the dogs on their tour, the way of apprehending them, in particular within the framework of a replacement, specifies the veterinarian. Especially since the covid period has also impacted the behavior of animals who have lost socialization, with a form of loneliness with their master or family and an anxiety-provoking climate that has affected both men and animals. »
Also, in case of difficulties with a dog, it is important to report them to the owner as well as to superiors. “If the master does not want to do anything to secure the situation, do not go there anymore, insists the veterinarian. Humans took this dog. They are responsible for their actions. Often the postmen are too patient or too invested and the owners do not respect you. »
Limiting contact between the postman and the dog, by raising awareness among owners, is a priority for La Poste, which reminds us that in the event of a bite, an accident report is established. Criminally liable, the owner must pay for three consecutive veterinary checks as well as any medical expenses.
“I’m not putting my life in danger for a dog”
“When I applied to become a letter carrier, I did not expect it to be so dangerous with dogs, blows this agent who provides replacements. I have always been afraid of dogs. For example, I have a house where the gate has been raised but where the dog still passes its mouth over it. I reported it and haven’t been there since. I’m not putting my life on the line for a dog. I once had a shredded coat after getting into a ball. But I wasn’t hurt. I’m really terrified of dogs…”