03 July 2017

14,500 attacks on Postal Workers over the last five years

Royal Mail has revealed that over the last five years there have been around 14,500 dog attacks on postmen and woman across the UK, with around 2,500 in the last year alone.

The fifth annual Dog Awareness Week launched today (Monday 3rd July) runs from 3 to 8 July 2017. The week aims to raise awareness of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women and encourage responsible dog ownership.

The number of dog attacks on postmen and women has fallen on the previous year. This reduction in attacks is encouraging but it is still too high at 2,500 a year. Every dog attack is one attack too many. On average there is still as many as seven attacks take place each day, some leading to a permanent and disabling injury.

Royal Mail and the CWU knows that most dogs are not inherently dangerous, however, even the most placid animal can be prone to attack if it feels its territory is being threatened. Royal Mail’s first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of the workforce who provide a valuable service to customers across the length and breadth of the UK and in every community.

Royal Mail’s research also shows that the number of attacks rises during the school holidays and in the summer months when parents and children are at home.

In the last year, 71% of dog attacks on postal workers have happened at the front door or in the front garden. At these times, dogs are more likely to be unsupervised in the garden or the dog is not kept under control when the postman or woman knocks on the door.

Royal Mail and the Communications Workers Unions’ Dog Awareness Week is supported by a wide range of organisations and animal charities including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, the National Police Chief’s Council and the National Dog Wardens Association.

CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce said " Seven postal workers attacked by dogs every day of the year is unacceptable and the whole idea of Dog Awareness Week is to highlight the problem and the repercussions for dog owners and the victims, many of whom are seriously injured”.

“Over 70% of dog attacks on postmen and women occur on the garden path or at the doorstep of the dog's owner home. It just needs owners to restrict their animals access to the front garden or to put their dog in another room before opening the door to collect a parcel or sign for an item.

“Customers are always pleased to see the postman or postwoman arrive as they’re eager to take delivery of their goods they’ve ordered and paid for on the internet but thousands of them unfortunately don’t give a second thought to the postal worker’s safety by putting the dog in a safe, secure place.  The vast majority of our customers and their dogs aren't a problem but irresponsible and reckless dog owners are.

“The new dog control laws now identify and penalises irresponsible dog owners and many are now facing prosecution and paying heavy court penalties and criminal records. So it’s in their best interest in more ways than one to make sure the dog doesn’t bite the postman. One owner was recently fined £8,800 after his dog injured a postwoman’s fingers as she put letters through the door – which is another big problem postal workers face! The penalties can include losing their dogs, being banned from dog ownership, paying compensation, big fines and even a jail sentence.

“Dog owners need to fully understand that their actions usually are the cause of a dog being dangerous and simple precautions can prevent the pain for everyone concerned. No matter what breed of dog is involved, the dog can present a substantial danger to postal workers.”

TV presenter and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Ambassador, Paul O’Grady is backing the campaign and said: “Many people find it endearing when their dogs are protective of their owners and homes, but this can quickly escalate, no matter what breed or size of dog, resulting in dog bite incidents. You may feel your dog is the softest in the world but other people can be intimidated by their behaviour and this isn’t fair. No one should feel unsafe while doing their job, including postmen. As owners it's our responsibility to train our pets to behave appropriately around strangers. Encourage good behaviour and spend time getting your pets familiar with people visiting the house.”

Dr Shaun Davis, Royal Mail Group Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainabilityadded: “There have been around 14,500 attacks on our postman and woman over the last five years, with around 2,500 this year alone. Some of these attacks have led to extremely serious and life changing injuries and this is unacceptable.

“While the number of dog attacks on postmen and women has fallen in the last year, the numbers are still far too high. Our postmen and women need to be able to deliver the service they provide to communities across the UK, without the risk of injury. This is why this campaign is so important. We need to keep raising awareness of this serious issue and ask all dog owners to keep their pets under control and be a responsible dog owner.”

Dogs Trust has been a supporter of the campaign for the last five years and Director of Canine Behaviour and Research Dr Rachel Casey said; “Teaching dogs how to settle in a home environment and not be worried by the arrival of the postman is such an important day-to-day skill, but one that is often overlooked. Teaching dogs to be relaxed when the post arrives makes a world of difference to yours and the postperson’s day. It also takes relatively little time to teach, especially when introduced early in life. Where dogs are reactive it is important to put in place simple safety measures, such as keeping them away from the door when the post arrives, in the short term.

“However, with a bit of work dogs can learn that postmen and women coming to the door is a normal occurrence and not something to be either worried or excited about - once this is established this daily event can pass them by.”

To help promote dog safety, a special Dog Awareness Week postmark will be applied to all stamped items from Monday 3July 2017 to Saturday 8 July 2017.

A wide range of activities will be taking place during Dog Awareness Week including;

·        CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce is giving a number of Press, Media and Radion interviews across the Country along with victims and Royal Mail spokespersons.

·        Royal Mail postmen and women will be speaking about their own experiences of dog attacks to colleagues and the public

·        Dog Awareness posters will be in place in all Royal Mail enquiry office’s giving dog owners tips on how they can help

·        Dog wardens will be visiting a number of Delivery Offices across the country giving dog safety talks to postmen and women

·        Dogs Trust’s expert behaviourist Dr Rachel Casey is available to talk about dog behaviour to help people understand the mind of the dog


Top Postcode Areas for Highest Number of Attacks

Postcode Area                Number of attacks

Northern Ireland               67

BN                                   64

PE                                    60

GU                                   58

S                                      51

TN                                    51

ME                                   49

BS                                    48

LS                                    46

NG                                   43


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 top tips and ideas for dog owners to help your postman or postwoman 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 calls.

·     Dog attacks can happen when you’ve opened the door to collect or 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 receptacle.  It will protect your post, and your postman’s fingers

·     If it’s not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman 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.

Further Royal Mail Website Information is available at: www.royalmail.com/dogawareness and www.royalmailgroup.com/dogs for hints and tips on dog safety.

Dog Awareness Week Videohttps://we.tl/1ViCj5S1pO

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