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CWU Safety Reps Take Dangerous Dog Awareness Into The Community

The traditional view by those knowing little about the work of Union Safety Reps is that they simply walk around the workplace every three months, with tick sheets!

Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth and this year CWU Safety Reps have well and truly smashed that false image. From running the majority of Greater Mersey Amal’s Gate Meetings as part of the Four Pillars Campaign in Royal Mail, to promoting Dangerous Dogs Awareness at work and in the wider community; our Union Safety Reps have certainly raised the profile of the CWU.

In the North West, CWU Area Safety Rep Jamie McGovern and young worker and soon to train as a safety rep; Clair Kami held a Dangerous Dog Awareness session in New Ferry. The significance of New Ferry to Jamie and Clair’s branch, Greater Mersey Amal; is that it is the most prolific area within the Branch for dog attacks on post women and men.

During the briefing Clair told of her harrowing experience of being attacked and bitten by a Dangerous Dog and the long-term affects it has had on her. So much so, that she decided to do a video for her Branch in the form of an interview so all postal workers can be made aware of the trauma of such an incident not to mention the physical injuries sustained from a dog bite.

Amazingly, the very next day, Clair suffered a near-miss with an aggressive dog and was so shaken up that she made a video immediately appealing to dog owners to control their dogs. Both videos can be seen elsewhere on this website, with the latter video being available on the home page of this website.

Some of the basic facts about Dangerous Dog attacks on Postal Workers that Jamie told the attending post women and men:

* There has been a 76% increase in dog attack hospitalisations over the last 10 years in England. Emergency admissions to Scottish hospitals after a dog attack rose 80% over the same 10 years period, according to NHS Scotland figures. Wales figures show a 20% increase over the last 12 months alone.

* Three recent horrific dog attack cases, for example, in Newquay, Boston and Wrexham on Postwomen could easily have ended in fatalities had it not been for the intervention of good Samaritans and/or the owner in the nick of time.

* The CWU estimates that up to 3,000 Postal workers and around 100 BT engineers are attacked by dogs each year. These range from minor injuries to life-changing, life-threatening incidents, suffered by ordinary postmen and women going about their jobs.

*It’s not only Postal and BT CWU members at risk – gas, water and electricity workers, refuge collectors, council workers, NHS staff, district nurses, home helps, health visitors, care workers, meals on wheels volunteers and many others are all vulnerable.

But as stated in the introduction to this news item, the work of a Union Safety Rep doesn’t stop at the boundary of the workplace:

In order to spread the word about Dangerous Dogs and the threat they pose due to being owned by irresponsible people, Jamie has taken his message into schools in the Wirral and in Cheshire.

Working with local head teachers and children’s parents, Jamie recently visited a school in Runcorn and was well received by the children as can be seen in the pics below. His work with the PDSA, the Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership and other Merseyside organisations around Dog Awareness continues throughout the year and not just for this week of Dangerous Dog Awareness.

Obviously Jamie's presentation to the children was not so graphic as that he gave to other audiences, but he was still able to get the message across to the class, so that they fully understood the need for their, and other people's pet dogs to be kept under control when outside of the home and when inside too on the occasions post and parcels are delivered to their homes.

He explained ways to do this, e.g. to ensure before opening the front door, that their pet dog is in another room behind a closed door whenever someone comes to the front door. He explained too that even if their pet had never shown signs of being aggressive, this does not mean they wouldn't feel as if someone was intruding into their home at some point and react to the person in uncharacteristic manner for their dog.

But it is not just delivery workers who suffer injuries from dog attacks, as this recent posting on Twitter from Angela Raynor MP whose husband suffered injuries to his fingers when posting leaflets through constituents doors.

As can be seen from the picture on the right, he had to attend his local A&E Dept as a result.

Members of the public are at risk as they go on the daily business and sadly children have been killed by dangerous dogs as the media very quickly reports to the public, yet the laws in this country do not seem adequate to cope with the increases in public incidents of dog attacks.

Dave Joyce, the CWU's National Health, Safety and Environment Officer testified to this to the House of Commons Select Committee during this week's Dog Awareness Week run by both the CWU and Royal Mail.

One of the major issues he gave evidence on was the idea of Breed Specific Legislation which was first used by Thatcher when she banned certain breeds. This didn't work then and Dave made it clear that the CWU is opposed to such legislation.

He said that the CWU quickly found in it's research, that post workers are attacked by any breed of dog and that the idea of BSL is unhelpful and in fact a detraction from the real issue.

Dave Joyce made the point that legislation needs to be drawn up to introduce a compensation scheme for victims of dangerous dogs and ensure it is also in place across the whole of the UK. He had previously drawn the committee's attention to the fact that in Scotland, they operate a system of 2 dog attacks and you're out in terms of prosecutions and that the number of cases brought by the police under this system is abysmal.

As a result these appalling stats are only going to increase:

"82% of attacks take place between the garden gate and the front door"

"76% increase in hospital admissions due to dog bites since 2005, and 80% in Scotland since 2005"

"Now running at 7,500 hospital admissions a year as a result of dog injuries"

On Merseyside, CWU Safety Reps will continue their year-round work in the community to keep the issue of Dangerous Dogs alive in the minds of dog owners and campaign to educate them as to their responsibilities as owners of pets that can, given the right circumstances turn from a docile pet to one of an aggressive and dangerous dog.

Working with Royal Mail, BT and organisations as the PDSA, the Dog's Trust and the Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership; the CWU and it's 'small army of life-savers' will continue to do the necessary work that only Union Safety Reps know how to do, instinctively and effectively.

Source: Jamie McGovern / Clair Kami / unionsafety

See also:

A Controlled Tyrannosaurus Rex In The House Is Safer Than An Irresponsible Owner Of A Dangerous Dog

The Nightmare Legacy Of Being Bitten By A Dangerous Dog - A Fear Of All Animals

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