These attacks rise during the school holidays and in the summer months, when parents and children are at home with dogs and sometimes allow them unsupervised in the garden or out onto the streets without restraints.
2,484 dog attacks have taken place on postmen and women across the UK in 2018-19. That is an increase of 9% on last year, despite our dog awareness campaigns. It remains unacceptably high and in some postcode areas, attacks are increasing significantly. In the last year, 82% of attacks on postal workers happened at the front door or in the garden and we are appealing to all dog owners to think TWICE when the postwoman or man calls.
Royal Mail is appealing to dog owners to ensure they understand the impact of dog attacks on postmen and women who are only doing their job.
Royal Mail knows that dogs are not inherently dangerous, but even the most placid animal can be prone to attack if it feels it or its' territory is being threatened.
Our first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers across the length and breadth of the UK and in every community.
Last financial year, an attack on a postman in Paisley, Scotland, meant he was unable to work for three months. The owner was later prosecuted in the courts.
Tina O’Toole, a postwoman for three years, from Warrington, Cheshire was delivering to a house with a Staffordshire / Terrier cross, when she was attacked and bitten on her leg in the front garden of the property. Her injuries required hospital treatment, a skin flap and possibly physiotherapy in the future.
“I had only been delivering there a couple of weeks; I was aware there was a dog at the premises as I had heard it when I had delivered previously but I’d never seen the dog outside.
"On the day of the attack I posted the mail and was surprised there was no barking. Once I had delivered the mail I turned to leave the premises when I heard the dog barking and running up behind me. As I was attempting to get through the gate I felt pain to my right calf.
“I’ve been off work now for five weeks and I’m just about to return. I’d just ask customers, please don’t have your dog loose in the garden when we are on our rounds. Owners are responsible for their dogs – no matter where they are. Owners often say their dogs won’t bite but there is no guarantee. Any dog can become aggressive and attack.”
– Tina O'Toole
Our Dog Awareness campaign aims to raise awareness of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women and encourage responsible dog ownership including tips for dog owners.
Our Dog Awareness campaign is supported by the Communications Workers Union and a wide range of organisations and animal charities including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, the National Police Chief’s Council and the National Dog Wardens Association.
Top tips for dog owners
Even the most lovable dog can be a danger to postal staff. Dogs are territorial by nature and if they feel they need to protect their family, they can become unpredictable.
Here are some ideas to help your postman or woman deliver your post in safety:
- Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives. Place your pet in the back garden or a faraway room.
- If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get round to the front when the postman or woman calls.
- Dog attacks can happen when you’ve opened the door to sign for an item. Please keep your dog in another room before answering the door and make sure children don’t open the door, as dogs can push by them and attack.
- Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered.
- Wait 10 minutes after your mail has arrived before you let your pet back into your hallway. Keep everything as calm and low-key as possible.
- If your dog likes to attack your mail consider installing a wire letter receptacle. It will protect your post, and your postman or woman’s fingers.
- If it’s not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman or woman delivering your mail, please consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property.
- Please ensure your dog is microchipped, wearing a collar and tag and that your contact details on the tag and microchip are up to date.