Government must “toughen up” against “national crisis” of dog attacks, union urges





Government must act to stop dog violence “epidemic”, union says


Postal workers have urged the government to “toughen up” as Britain faces a “national crisis” of dangerous dogs, as Dog Awareness Week is launched.


The Communication Workers Union (CWU) – the union for postal workers – has made the call during Dog Awareness Week, a campaign which is running in 2023 from 3rd-9th July.


To mark this, the CWU, Royal Mail, Parcelforce and the National Police Chiefs Council will also be launching a new leaflet, Responsible Dog Ownership – How To Keep You, Your Dog and Visitors Safe.


In the past decade, over 30,000 postal workers have been attacked by dogs, with research estimating that over 80% of these attacks were at the front door.


Approximately 36 postal workers are attacked by dogs every week, while 2,000-3,000 are attacked every year and over 1,000 have even had a finger bitten off or a similar sever injury while delivering.


CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce said: “I remain very concerned about the continuing UK dog attack epidemic and national crisis we face.


“The number of people admitted to hospital for dog bites has tripled in the last 20 years and apart from the personal costs, pain, suffering, disablement and loss of life, it costs the NHS around £75 million a year.


“NHS data shows that more than 10,000 people a year need in-patient hospital treatment after a dog attack many more attend A&E – many of those victims are postal workers.


Dog attacks remain a major safety hazard and concern for postal workers across the UK, and the scale of the problem shouldn’t be underestimated.


“I have called on the UK government and the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss what more can be done to toughen up the Dog Control Laws and improve police enforcement and court penalties – such is my concern.


“The key objectives of Dog Awareness Week are primarily to remind the public to be aware of their legal and moral responsibilities to control their dogs and prevent dog attacks on postal workers who are providing them with a great public service.


“The public need to be aware that if their dog attacks a postal worker, they will be prosecuted either by the police, local authority or by Royal Mail via a private prosecution.


“We are again calling on customers who are dog owners to work with us and help stop this by putting their animals in a safe place before opening the door to postal workers and fit a letterbox cage or outside mail box if their dog attacks the mail when it arrives through the front door.


“There have been over 60 recorded dog attack deaths in the UK since 2000, and 20 have already been mauled to death by dogs in the last three years. This is a big concern for postal workers who are in the front line – delivering to the nation’s 31,000,000 addresses every day.


“The unacceptably high prevalence, scale and volume of dog attacks, plus the impact on victims – which can be life changing – is nothing less than a national crisis.


“Our second message to all postal workers remains: be vigilant, keep safe, take no risks, don’t enter properties where dogs are running lose, don’t put fingers through the letterbox, don’t assume a dog won’t bite as any dog can be aggressive, don’t accept an owners’ word that their dog will not bite, and report all dog attack incidents and near misses.”




Editors’ note:


Dog attacks remain a major safety hazard and concern for postal workers across the UK and the scale of the problem shouldn’t be underestimated:


  • 30,000 postmen and women attacked by dogs in the last decade;
  • 6 dog attacks on postal workers across the UK every day;
  • 35 dog attacks on postal workers every week;
  • 2,000 – 3,000 dog attacks on postal workers every year;
  • 400 dog bites through the letterbox every year;
  • 500 postmen and women have had a finger or part finger bitten off through the letterbox in the last 5 years;
  • 80% of dog attacks on postal workers took place at the front door or on the garden path, driveway or yard;
  • The UK dog population has surged by 3 million in the last 4 years according to the RSPCA;
  • 10,000 people need hospital treatment following a dog attack according to the NHS;
  • £75 million a year is the cost of NHS hospital treatment for dog attack injuries.


For further enquiries or requests, please contact CWU Press Officer Marcus Barnett at