Scarred for life: dog attacks take their toll on meter readers

Two Queensland electricity meter readers are recovering from serious injuries after being attacked by dogs on the loose.

Energex’s General Manager Customer & Market Operations Cloe Kernick said the incidents at Ipswich and Barcaldine were a painful reminder of what happens when gates are left open or dogs are able to jump the fence.

“Dog owners need to take responsibility for their pets for the safety of everyone walking in their neighbourhood, including meter readers doing their rounds.

“Dog attacks are traumatic and can have lasting effects on the physical and mental health of the victims and their families – some people are literally scarred for life.

“Every day, meter readers go door-to-door on foot as part of their job so the risk is always front of mind for them and we hope that dog owners understand the part they play in keeping our people safe,” Cloe said.

In January 2019, Energex introduced a safe entry policy that prevents crews and meter readers from entering yards where there is a record of dogs on site, but it’s not clear that they’re securely restrained or separated from the work area.

Since then there has been a 40% reduction in the number of injuries.

“While we’ve seen a vast improvement in the last two years, meter readers are still being bitten by dogs and we need the community’s help to stop these horrific incidents.

“We’ve introduced a free SMS notification service for dog owners, who can register online to receive a text the day before their scheduled meter read.

“This gives them time to prepare for the meter reader’s visit to ensure safe entry and avoid a skipped read,” Ms Kernick said.

Using Energex’s customers can also update their dog details, so the meter reader is aware of exactly how many dogs are meant to be on site.

If two dogs are listed and the meter reader can only see that one is secured, they can’t guarantee safe entry.

“We have circumstances where people either get a new dog or, sadly, lose a pet and the last thing they think about is updating their details until they receive an estimated meter read, so please get in touch with the most up-to-date information.

“We understand that many people think their dogs wouldn’t hurt a fly and the safe entry policy shouldn’t apply to them, but you never know how pets are going to react to strangers and our people can’t take any chances because we’ve seen some horrific injuries caused by small dogs who look harmless,” Ms Kernick said.

If meter access is an ongoing issue or they receive a skipped read card, dog owners also have the option of submitting an online self-meter read.

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