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 taking place each day, some leading to a permanent and disabling injury.
However, the statistics regarding dangerous dogs and dog attacks remain alarming:
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. The CWU endorses this approach.
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.
Dave commented on dog owner customer behaviour:
“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.
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.”
Referring to the new penalties, Dave concluded:
“The new dog control laws now identify and penalises irresponsible dog owners and many are now facing prosecution and paying heavy court penalties and getting criminal records. So it’s in their best interest in more ways than one to make sure the dog doesn’t bite the postman/woman. 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.”
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.
Dr Shaun Davis, Royal Mail Group Global Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing & Sustainability added:
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;
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;
Top Postcode Areas for Highest Number of Attacks
Postcode Area Number of attacks
Northern Ireland 67
Top Tips for Dog Owners
Here are some top tips and ideas for dog owners to help your postman or postwoman deliver your post in safety:
Source: Dave Joyce / CWU / Royal Mail