GUARATINGUETA, Brazil — It’s not exactly a “man bites dog” scenario, but a Brazilian postman has taken the unusual step of posting selfies showing how he gets along with the four-legged friends on his route. And he’s offering suggestions for how his fellow postal workers can avoid becoming a canine chew toy.
Animal-lover Cristiano da Silva Antunes started posting the selfies to his Instagram page, where he has more than 100,000 followers, to challenge the stereotype that dogs hate mailmen. The self-described “postman friend of animals” lives with his wife, two dogs and three cats in Guaratingueta, a municipality in the southeastern state of Sao Paulo.
In addition to working for Brazil’s national postal service, known as Correios, Antunes regularly takes stray or lost animals he finds on the streets to shelters. He uses his online platform to raise awareness about and raise funds for abandoned pets, with an eye toward one day operating an animal shelter.
Earning the trust of dogs is no easy feat, according to Antunes, who said they require a lot of respect and patience. First, he greets them, then he lets them get closer before eventually allowing them to lick his face when they feel comfortable enough.
Antunes has also formed great relationships with other animals, including cats. He has been attacked only once by a dog during his seven years at Correios, when he got chomped by a pinscher during his first year on the job.
The postman has been out of work since March because he is at-risk of being infected with the coronavirus and developing a severe illness. However, he has continued to post updates about the abandoned pets he has rescued.
“Grateful to God for the job and for the company @correiosoficial, where I work. When you work with love and professionalism everything gets better,” a smiling Antunes captioned a photo he posted in May, in which he is holding two dogs.
Despite Antunes’ rapport with canines, Correios offers training to all postmen on how to deal with dogs, how to identify situations of risk, and what to do in the case of an attack.
Dog bites are the third-most common reason for Brazilian postal employees to miss work. Of the postal workers who participated in a 2012 survey, nearly 65% reported that they have been bitten by a dog while on the job. The problem persists in the United States as well, with almost 6,000 USPS employees being bitten by dogs last year.
(Edited by Carlin Becker and Matthew Hall)