August 18th 2011
Dog bites on meter readers increasing
As was reported today, a child was mauled to death and others seriously injuried after a dog went on the rampage in Melbourne. The horrific story serves to underline an issue that wont go away, particularly for meter readers who have the thankless task of entering private yards where they are often not informed that an aggressive dog may be present and not under control.
Yesterday, Ergon sent us a media release on this subject with some graphic images of the dog attacks on their staff which are again on the rise, prompting a warning to dog owners to ensure their pets do not cause unnecessary problems on meter reading days.
The company has also issued a clear message to owners of potentially savage dogs: Ergon Energy will report dog attacks on its staff to local authorities.
In the last month there have been three attacks on meter readers in North Queensland and two attacks in far North Queensland.
General Manager Service Delivery Paul Ryan said the incidence of dog bites and “near misses” from dogs had become one of the most frequent causes of injury to staff.
Injuries which could have been avoided
“We are very concerned about this impact on our people and want to educate the public about it,” Mr Ryan said.
“Customers need to let us know about the presence of a dog at their premises so our meter readers are aware and not surprised when they visit on their rounds.
“Even dogs that have a good nature with people they know can have a change in behaviour when a stranger is nearby – people need to consider this possibility too.”
Ergon Energy has recorded more than 320 dog attacks on its meter readers across regional Queensland since 2006. Several of these attacks resulted in hospitalisation of employees or surgical procedures.
Mr Ryan said state legislation placed clear obligations on dog owners to be responsible for the behaviour of their pets.
“The law says that your dog must not attack or cause fear and there are penalties for serious breaches of this legislation,” Mr Ryan said.
“If necessary, Ergon Energy will report incidents to local authorities, which could in turn have serious legal implications for the pet’s owner,” he said.
“While our meter readers are generally well-versed in dog behaviour and are generally vigilant of such dangers, if they don’t know a dog is there they can find themselves in potentially dangerous situations,” Mr Ryan explained.
“The owners of pets have an obligation to keep our meter readers safe from this threat.”
Where meter readers cannot safely access meters, the reading for that quarter is estimated.
“This then has implications for the customer in terms of receiving an accurate bill down the track – it can lead to a large bill at a later date if consumption has been underestimated,” Mr Ryan said.
“We are also aware that sometimes circumstances change – for example people looking after a friend’s dog at their house, or an existing dog having a litter of pups.”
Customers are advised to call Ergon Energy on 13 10 46 to record details of any dogs at their premises.
Photos courtesy of Ergon
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