Dangerous Dogs - Bite Back
CWU celebrates new Dangerous Dogs law that keeps postmen and women
safe, 14th March 2014
An early day motion has been created by Labour MP for Walsall South, Valerie Vaz, in support of the union's Bite Back campaign. In order to apply as much pressure on the Government to publish a time table for their proposed changes to the laws governing dangerous dogs, the CWU is urging all members to write to their MP asking them to sign the EDM.
Read the full text of EDM 822: Tackling dog attacks on postmen and postwomen
You can contact your MP through http://www.writetothem.com/
CWU's Bite Back campaign aims to raise awareness about responsible dog ownership and get new laws in place to protect people who are attacked on private property. We believe the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 is failing to protect both dog owners and attack victims. We launched the campaign in 2008, a year which, once again, saw attack after attack on CWU members by out-of-control dogs.
Two particularly horrific cases were the injuries suffered by postmen in Sheffield and Cambridge, both of whom almost lost limbs while carrying out their duties because of the irresponsibility of dog owners.
CWU's campaign has already managed to secure law changes in
Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Welsh Assembly confirmed on July
17 2012 that it will also now legislate to improve dangerous dogs
laws. On February 6 2013 the Westminster government announced new
measures to extend the law to private property and introduce
compulsory microchipping. This covers many, but not all, the
concerns raised by CWU. We've also secured new Sentencing
Guidelines on owners of dogs who attack people, including lifting
the maximum jail sentence from 12 to 18 months.
CWU estimates that up to 5,000 postal workers and around 400 telecom engineers are attacked by dogs each year - these range from minor injuries to the kind of life-threatening incidents suffered by the postmen in Sheffield and Cambridge. New Royal Mail figures show that 3,100 attacks were recorded on postal workers between April 2011 and April 2012, showing a downward trend which is welcome.
But, while in the Sheffield case, the owner was prosecuted and jailed, the man who owned two rottweillers that almost tore off the Cambridge postman's arm escaped legal sanction altogether.
CWU believes the current dogs laws are insufficient and leave thousands of workers vulnerable. One of the major problems is a loophole in the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act which means there is no redress for attacks that occur on private property. Read about our political success. The government's February 2013 announcement should close this loophole.
Some 70 per cent of the dog attacks on our members occur on private property, in gardens, drives, paths and private roads. And it's not only CWU people - gas, water and electricity workers, district nurses, home helps, health visitors, care workers, meals on wheels volunteers and many others are all left utterly unprotected by the law because of this weakness in legislation.
Dave Joyce,CWU health, safety and environment officer, has spearheaded the CWU's campaign for legal reform and argues: "It's outrageous that hard-working and conscientious people, providing a whole range of vital services have been, effectively, treated the same as criminal trespassers by the law. We desperately need new laws to protect victims and promote responsible dog ownership to prevent attacks taking place."
'Bite-Back' Campaign objectives:
- new UK wide laws, that prevent dog attacks on postal workers,
children and others
- dog control laws to apply everywhere including private property
- new measures to make owners more accountable and responsible for the actions of their dogs
- better enforcement of the law by the police and local authorities dog wardens
- harsher sentences by the courts for offending dangerous dog owners
- compulsory insurance cover for dogs
- microchipping of all dogs
- raise awareness of the serious problem and generate support
CWU is working with a range of animal charities and enforcement agencies in the pursuit of these objectives, including the RSPCA, Kennel CLub, Dogs Trust, Association of Chief Police Officers, Dog Wardens' Association, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, British Vetinary Association and others. CWU is a member of the Microchipping Alliance.
The Communication Workers Union represents 202,700 workers of
which 70,000 are employed as Royal Mail delivery postmen and women
delivering to 27 million private and commercial addresses.
Additionally there are 10,000 Parcelforce delivery drivers and
30,000 BT Engineers represented by CWU whose job it is to visit and
enter houses and commercial premises where the risk of dog attack
is ever present.