Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Letter carrier carries scars of dog attack

This happened two months ago???? Then why wasn't it printed until yesterday?


Letter carrier Duane Snyder of Cambridge is still recovering from a dog bite injury he received while delivering mail in May in a southwest Guelph neighbourhood.

GUELPH (Jul 3, 2006)
Duane Snyder walked along his typical mail delivery route on May 3. It's a quiet, residential neighbourhood with few dogs.

Despite the safety of his route, Snyder was about to experience what has become an increasing hazard for people in his line of work.

The 40-year old was delivering letters on the southwest side of Guelph when he passed a house he'd gone by many times before.

Without any mail to deliver to the location, he began to walk past it. But he had barely cleared the property when the owner of the house and his dog, a pitbull-Labrador cross, came outside and Snyder was attacked by the dog.

The letter carrier was able to fend off the dog, but not before it bit him, leaving behind three open wounds on the back of his right hand and taking him off his walk for more than two months.

"I was in total shock," Snyder said from his home in Cambridge. "I (saw) the dog come out of the house, but I didn't expect him to lunge at me."

Snyder screamed until the dog's owner pulled the dog off him and took it back into the house. In his 15 years with Canada Post, Snyder had been nipped by over-excited poodles before, but he was shocked by the attack that day.

Snyder's experience is becoming a more regular occurrence, said Tom Creech a spokesperson for Canada Post.

Last Wednesday, a Kitchener letter carrier was bitten by a German shepherd.

The carrier, an employee of Canada Post for three years, wasn't seriously injured and returned to work the next day.

But not all carriers are so lucky.

In the Kitchener-Cambridge-Guelph area last year there were 12 dog bite incidents that saw employees off work for five days.

In Guelph, five letter carriers -- including Snyder -- have been attacked in the last year, said Kathy Vella, a supervisor for Canada Post in Guelph.

All carriers are warned of dogs along their route, said Vella.

They're given the addresses of where dogs live.

But sometimes the warning isn't enough to protect her employees.

Following an attack on a Chatham letter carrier by two pit bull-type dogs two years ago, Canada Post began sending out letters to customers with dogs warning them to keep their pets away from mailboxes and door slots, and to make sure dogs cannot escape out of screen doors, Creech said.

After last week's incident in Kitchener, similar letters will again be distributed to dog owners in southern Ontario.

Duane Snyder hopes informing customers of the perils that face him and his co-workers will help prevent future dog attacks.

Since the May incident Snyder has been on light duty work, because of the injuries he sustained.
His wounds have all but healed, leaving behind small scars. But his wrist and shoulder aren't back to what they used to be, he says.

His forearm is still in a splint as he waits for his wrist to heal.

Although the attack was a traumatizing experience, Snyder wants to get back to his delivery duties.

"It's just like riding a horse. You fall off, you get back on," he said.

But he knows there's always the chance it could happen again.

"There's always the risk of it happening again. It could happen to anybody," said Snyder.

"I'm a little leery of going back to that house . . . Is it going to happen again?"


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