Dave Joyce recently wrote to all CWU Branches concerning a news report by the BBC which talked of an increase of Dangerous Dog Attacks across England and Wales.
His letter to Branches, LTB056/23 can be read below:
A BBC Story has today (8th March 2023) been shown on BBC News and has been published on the BBC News Website reporting that the number of dog attacks recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by more than a third in the past five years the BBC investigation reports.
Last year, there were nearly 22,000 cases of out-of-control dogs causing injury. In 2018, there were just over 16,000. The UK's dog population is estimated to have risen by only 15% in that time. Police say they've seen more reports of dangerous dogs as a result of specific work by specialist officers. The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) says forces across the UK have been focusing on attacks.
The BBC's findings are based on 37 responses to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to all 43 police forces. Dogs which cause death or injury to a person or an assistance dog must be recorded by police - but other incidents, for example a dog attacking another animal, or nuisance and anti-social dogs, don't have to be. As a result, these may not be included in the FOI figures. It was also not possible to include comparable data for Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The BBC's FOI figures suggest reported dog attacks may have grown at about twice the rate of the number of new pet dogs. Estimates vary - but an annual survey by the vet charity PDSA says there has been a nearly 15% increase in dog numbers UK-wide - up from 8.9m in 2018, to 10.2m in 2022.
The number of dogs removed from their owners by police has also risen, according to the FOI data obtained by the BBC. Nearly 3,500 dogs were seized in 2022 across 33 force areas - up 36% from 2018 figures.
Number of Dog Attacks (England and Wales)
* 2018 – 16,394 * 2019 – 16,984 * 2020 – 17,375 * 2021 – 19,623 * 2022 – 21,918
The cost to the NHS of treating dog attacks is £71m a year, reported The Sunday Times 5 February 2023.
A South Yorkshire Police specialist dog legislation officer said
"It's busier than we've ever known and there’s been an increase in dog numbers since the time before the Covid pandemic lockdown. Some have not been socialised as much as dogs would have been before - in terms of puppy training or training classes, or being used to people coming to the home address. That can impact upon the dog and create stress. Having seen the effects of these dog attacks, I make no apology for seizing dogs where there is a risk."
There have been two fatal dog attacks so far this year.
A dog walker was mauled to death in Caterham Surrey and a four-year-old girl was killed by a family pet dog in Milton Keynes.
There have been 14 people killed in dog attacks in the UK in the last 14 months. 63 have been killed since 1981 in the UK.
The report features CWU member postwoman Sarah King who had a finger bitten off through the letterbox whilst delivering mail in Rotherham in January 2022. Sarah was featured on the TV and website and did a great job getting across the plight of postal workers and CWU members.
Sarah needed several surgical procedures and now has a prosthetic finger. A year down the line and Sarah is still suffering with physical discomfort and psychological issues. Sarah didn't go out for a long time and is still seeing a counsellor and has flashbacks.
The dog owner was prosecuted and pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control. He was given a six-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £2,000 in compensation. Sarah said that all dog owners should put up warning signs outside their homes and have either a separate external letterbox, or a letter cage for mail attached inside the front door.
The following letter was received from the BBC Senior Reporter involved in the story and Report:
From: Emily Unia Sent: 08 March 2023 10:38
I want to thank you for all the help that you gave me with getting this story to air. It wouldn’t have happened without your input, particularly connecting us with Sarah King, who has been in all our coverage today. My sincere apologies again, for not being back in touch sooner.
The BBC News Website Report can be read here
Source: CWU / BBC News