Monday, March 17, 2008
Canada - Canada's postal service is looking for a new weapon to protect its carriers from dogs, bears and the occasional violent human. The agency is asking manufacturers to come forward with alternatives to the small pepper-spray cans that posties now carry, which can be ineffective against dogs.
"We're looking for the latest technology or products that are out there to protect our employees," agency spokesman John Caines said. About 300 Canada Post workers are bitten on the job every year. Many bites are minor, but some are debilitating. Gary Garbutt, a retired postal worker, still clearly remembers a 1986 pit bull attack:
"I had a gash along my leg - about five inches long and an inch wide - and I had to get a skin graft," said Gary Garbutt. The attack left him in hospital for 10 days.Two years ago, two pit bulls broke through a screen door in Chatham, Ontario, and attacked another mail carrier, breaking both her wrists and tearing off part of an ear. But vicious suburban dogs are not the only problem. In rural areas, bears and other larger animals can surprise carriers. The corporation is also concerned about violent people.
The agency considered an air horn that could scare off animals with a loud noise, but rejected the horn because it contained chemicals that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. They also tried an electronic device that emitted a high-pitched sound that hurts dog ears but can't be heard by humans. "There was a light that was supposed to come on to tell you it was working, but you really didn't know," Bellan said.
Workers sometimes turn to unofficial weapons of their own. Garbutt used his keys on occasion, saying sometimes the jangling sound of them was enough to convince a big dog to turn around. After his hospital stay, Garbutt decided to be more prepared the next time he delivered mail to the home where he was attacked.
"I had a bigger tool that I was going to beat him with - a piece of pipe with a piece of tire chain on the end of it," he said.
Please donate to support our work
DogsBite.org is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity organization. Learn more »