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Case Studies

Case Studies

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Barrow postman Anthony Quinn lost the top of his finger when a dog bit him from the other side of the letterbox as he was delivering mail in Lancaster in October 2011.

"There was no sound from inside to warn me of a dog's presence and as I pushed the letter in I was bitten," Anthony recalls, adding: "It was the first time I'd ever done that round.

"That particular day would have been my day off, but I was one of a team helping out in Lancaster."

After being rushed to hospital in nearby Preston, doctors told him that they would have to amputate below the nail root of the small finger of his left-hand.

"I had that operation the next day and since then I've been back four or five times to my local hospital to have the dressing changed," Anthony explains, adding that he will be seeing a specialist soon to discuss his longer term treatment programme.

Anthony, who returned to work on letter sorting and other duties in the delivery office, sees the union's campaign for new laws as "absolutely vital.

"I'd urge everyone to sign this Downing Street petition so that we can get the new legislation that we need," he concludes.

As if to prove one of the CWU's key arguments that dog laws must tackle the "deed not the breed," Patricia Prew's extensive bruising and deep flesh wound were inflicted on her by a Golden Retriever, which attacked her as she entered the front garden of a house in Devon.

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Patricia was delivering mail in the coastal town of Budleigh Salterton and had just come through the gate when the dog "came running from the side and just ran up and jumped.

"It just grabbed hold of me and pulled me down and then it bit me so deeply that it took a chink of my muscle from that part of my arm," she recalls.

"I've been off work for six weeks now and I've never been off before, but I'm hoping to get back to work in another couple of weeks - although I've been told it'll probably be on light duties."

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In August 2011, Andrew Berge suffered severe damage to his left-hand ring finger and tendon when a dog bit him at an address in South West London.

"As I posted an item through the letterbox, a dog bit and held on for four to five minutes," says Andy, who, despite suffering extreme pain, gathered up the mail that had fallen from his hand and his shoulder satchel with his uninjured hand before going to hospital and insisted on ensuring that his remaining undelivered mail was put back safely into the Royal Mail system via a Post Office, whilst on his way to Hospital.

Stuart Hughes almost lost his earlobe in autumn 2010 after an Alsation rushed out of a Gwynedd home and bit him in his jaw, ear and throat.

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The resident had seen her postman arriving and opened her front door in the north west Wales town of Fachwen to receive her mail when her dog came out and suddenly attacked Stuart.

"In casualty, the nurse told me they don't know if they could save my earlobe. I had to see a facial injuries specialist and they managed to stitch up my ear and throat with about 20 stitches," he recounts.

"I'm back on normal duties now, but there are still scars, some tendons were damaged and I get ongoing problems with my neck, so I'm attending regular physiotherapy.

"Dog attacks are no joke," insists Stuart "and the Government must do something."

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Up in Leeds, John Allanby is also now back on normal duties after last year's attack by a German Shepherd left him with a deep wound to his hand and arm left him out of action for several weeks.

"At this address, there is an open drive, with a gate to the back garden, but the gate had been left open and the dog ran out and attacked me," explains John.

"I can still feel it now. I can't remember how many stitches they put in at the hospital, but it was quite a few and the wound still hurts sometimes and the scar's still there.

"The law should protect us and it should apply everywhere - they've got to take action."

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Belfast postman Stephen Carabine has still not returned to normal delivery duties after being savagely attacked by a German Shepherd dog last June. "I was just opening the garden gate when the dog suddenly attacked me," Stephen recalls, adding: "It bit right through my hand and just locked on." Stephen managed to struggle free and a local resident called an ambulance, which took him to hospital where he received seven stitches in his wound.

"I was discharged, but the injury became infected - cellulitis - right up to my elbow and I had to have intravenous treatment," he explained.

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As well as the stitches and the treatment for his infection, Stephen has also undergone physiotherapy from a specialist plastics team, but he still complains of "almost total numbness on the back of my hand" and has been advised that full feeling may never return.

Steve returned to work last October, but is still on light duties. "I would like to go back out on deliveries and I hope I can soon," he said.

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Trevor Rose: BT engineer Trevor, from Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, was bitten by a dog when he called at the owner's property to install a telephone line in summer 2010. The attack saw him sustain severe injuries to his right upper arm.

Recalling the incident, Trevor explained: "After the attack, I called the police, who said me: 'What do you expect us to do? You were on his property'.

"The change to the law that our union's been fighting for can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned," Trevor added.

Gwyneth Atherton: Postwoman Gwyneth was delivering mail in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, in April 2010, when a dog grabbed her finger through the letter box. She sustained injuries to her middle finger requiring surgery. Gwyneth has permanent scarring and loss of sensation. "It's still painful now," Gwyneth said.

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Paul Coleman: In 2008, dog owner Jamal Richards was jailed for nine months after his two bulldog terriers mauled Paul, a delivery postman from Sheffield, while he was delivering mail in December 2007. According to witnesses, the animals grabbed a leg each, dragged him to the ground and subjected him to a horrifying prolonged attack.

Paul suffered serious leg, arm and chest injuries and was in hospital for six days, undergoing skin grafts and plastic surgery. At one stage, doctors feared that he could lose his right arm, in which significant nerve and muscle damage occurred.

Surgeons managed to save it, but Paul has permanent scarring and suffers reduced mobility.

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Alan Smith: Milton Keynes postman Alan needed over 100 stitched to his face after being bitten by a German shepherd dog in February 2008, which attacked him after its owner's son opened the front door as the postman walked up the front path leading to the house. As in the case of Mr Davies, the owner of the dog was not punished by the law because of where the attack took place, i.e. on private property.

Elaine White: Elaine had the top of her finger bitten off while delivering an item of mail in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in April 2008. While an ambulance took the postwoman to hospital, police arrived at the scene and, having gained access to the house, were able to recover the severed finger. However, although the officers rushed the digit to the hospital, it had been damaged so severely that surgeons were unable to reattach it,

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leaving Elaine with a stump where her finger had been.


For details on all dog attack deaths in the UK download Dog attack deaths in the UK and read the full report. Please note: both documents contain sensitive images and information.