Dog awareness – almost 2,500 dog attacks on postal workers last year
We take the safety of our postmen and women very seriously. Following the changes to the Dangerous Dog Act in England and Wales that came into force in May 2014, please be aware that Royal Mail may commence private prosecutions against dog owners where the police have failed to take the appropriate action. Note that the law also applies to dog owners who fail to take steps to prevent their dogs from biting postal workers fingers through a letter box. The impact on postal workers can be devastating as injuries can have a disabling and permanent effect. Please note our top tips below.
Top tips for dog owners:
- If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get around to the front when the postman or postwoman 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 to 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 box behind the door to protect your post and the postman’s or postwoman’s fingers.
- If it’s not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman or postwoman delivering your mail, please consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property.
- Please microchip your dog. Ensure it wears a collar and tag, and that your contact details on the tag and microchip are up to date.
Royal Mail runs an annual Dog Awareness Week to encourage responsible dog ownership and help protect postal workers against attacks.
- This year Royal Mail partnered with dog behavioural expert, Leon Towers, to provide tips and advice for dog owners on problematic dog behaviour patterns.
- In the last year, over 1,600 (78%) of dog attacks happened at the front door, in the garden or in the street. We are appealing to all dog owners to ‘THINK TWICE’ when they open the door as the postman or postwoman calls.
One postman’s experience:
Mark Wilding, a postman for 15 years from Llandrindod Wells in Wales, was out on his round when he was attacked by a dog in the garden of a customer’s property.
Mark said: “I was delivering to a property in a cul-de-sac. As I walked up the path, I heard some shouting. I looked up, and saw a dog appear from behind a car and run towards me. I could see it wasn’t a friendly approach. I used my mail pouch to try and fend the dog off while the owner raced to control it. While trying to protect myself, the dog jumped up and bit me on my hand. It then started biting my hi-viz jacket and my trousers. Eventually the owner managed to drag the dog off me and get it into his house. My hand wouldn’t stop bleeding, so I had to go to hospital.
“Although the wound wasn’t very deep, it was very frightening at the time, because the dog just kept attacking and wouldn’t stop.
“I would like to ask all dog-owning customers to be aware of potential situations that might cause your dog to attack. It could easily have been a small child and the outcome could have been so much worse.”
Dr Shaun Davis, Royal Mail Group Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainability said: “The safety of our people is of paramount importance and never more so than now as we continue to support the communities we live and work in. The coronavirus pandemic has placed an increasing reliance on our people to bring much needed supplies to and from our customers’ homes and businesses. I am pleased to see a slight decrease this year, however it is still an alarmingly high number. 47 dog attacks per week means seven per day over a six-day working week. This continues to be a figure we must focus on reducing, and we ask our customers to help us with this as they have done to date.”
Dog behavioural expert, Leon Towers, said: “Our dogs don’t mean to be mean when postal workers come calling, but guarding their territory is a natural instinct for many. But a few simple things to consider in advance can ensure everyone remains safe and our furry friends don’t act in an unwelcome way through no fault of their own. Just make sure they are not in an area like the entrance hall, entrance gate or front garden, which they feel is theirs to guard when someone knocks on the door; make sure they are mentally stimulated regularly - and especially at times when the post is due to arrive.”
Communication Workers Union, National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce said: “We are appealing to all customers who are dog owners to work with us and ‘think TWICE’ when the postman calls. Put the dog away in a secure room before opening the door to collect deliveries.”
We take the safety of our postmen and women very seriously. Following the changes to the Dangerous Dog Act in England and Wales that came into force in May 2014, Royal Mail has commenced private prosecutions against dog owners where the police have failed to take the appropriate action. This has punished offenders, further raised awareness, which in turn will prevent further attacks by forcing owners to put in place control measures to ensure a dog does not attack again.
In September 2020, The High Court has now ruled that dog owners who fail to take steps to prevent their dogs from biting postal workers fingers through a letter box, whether the owners are home or not, could be convicted of an offence contrary to the Dangerous Dogs Act.
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