Royal Mail is today launching its fourth annual Dog Awareness Week, which runs from 4 to 9 July 2016. The week aims to raise awareness of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women and encourage responsible dog ownership. Royal Mail Group and the CWU are once again working jointly on the campaign.
There are still around 3,000 dog attacks on postmen and women every year. Reported dog attacks have fallen by 10% on the previous year to 2,660 but the CWU estimates than many minor incidents and attacks 500 – 1000 more go unreported and another part of the campaign is to encourage outdoor delivery members and Parcelforce members to report ALL incidents with dogs because the next time it may not be a near thing and could be serious. It is discovered too often following serious attacks, resulting in life changing injuries that several minor incidents and near misses were not properly reported and had they done, the serious attack may have been avoided. Dog Attacks remain a major problem!
Despite this, even based on the officially reported figures, seven postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK. This figure rises by 10% during the school holidays and in the summer months when parents and children are at home and family pets are allowed to roam properties and gardens without constraint with front, back and side doors plus windows and side garden gates left open.
New research¹ released today as part of Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Week found that over a quarter (27%) of UK parents who own a dog confessed that their canine has been loose in the house when an exterior door (such as the front door) was open. In the last year, 36% of dog attacks on postal workers have happened at the front door while 35% took place in the front garden– the equivalent to 1,888 attacks. At these times, dogs are more likely to be unsupervised in the garden.
Royal Mail Group’s Dog Awareness Week is supported by the Communications Workers Union and a wide range of organisations and animal charities including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, the National Police Chief’s Council and the National Dog Wardens Association
Dogs can be quite protective of their owners and homes. They believe they are merely defending their property, but it’s important to recognise that this behaviour can sometimes escalate to dog bite incidents with anyone coming to a home, including postmen and women. No one should feel unsafe in the workplace and it’s important dog owners realise this and act responsibly and comply with the law that requires them to do just that. Owners must take the necessary steps to give postmen and women respect and safety from dog attacks. Owners should encourage good behaviour when postal workers come to make deliveries. Dog owners should be spending time getting their pets familiar with visitors coming to the house and so create a safer environment for all.
The overwhelming majority of dogs that CWU members come into contact with do not present any problem at all but dogs are territorial and will defend themselves, their family and their territory if they feel it is being threatened.
Postmen and women deliver to over 29 million addresses across the country every day and we want them to be vigilant, assess the situation, exercise caution and certainly take no risks when delivering the mail and parcels. This dog awareness week is also a campaign during summer time when we appeal to dog owners and their families to help reduce the numbers of attacks, particularly at the door and in the garden by keeping control of their dogs and acting responsibly by taking a few simple precautions.
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) are fully supporting the RMG/CWU Dog Awareness week again this year. The NPPC have been working in partnership with Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union to use the new Dangerous Dogs Legislation (which the CWU achieved through the ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign) and the ‘Postal Workers Service Level Agreement’ (SLA), signed by RMG, CWU and NPCC to improve the safety of postal workers from dog attacks.
The new law provides us with a great opportunity to hold those responsible to account, tackle irresponsible dog ownership and ultimately improve the safety and confidence of Postal Workers and all members of our communities. The new dog control laws now identify and penalises chronically irresponsible dog owners. One owner was recently fined £8,800 after his dog injured and Postwoman as she put letters through the door. The penalties can include losing their dogs and Jail. 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.”
In the Autumn of 2015, the Postal Workers SLA was piloted in 5 of the biggest Police forces in England; the Metropolitan, Merseyside, South and West Yorkshire and West Midlands, to try to understand the demand and any areas of improvement. The SLA has been a positive step forward in dealing with dog attacks and the NPCC is continuing to encourage Police forces nationally to utilise the tools available to them to tackle irresponsible dog ownership; by educating where possible and prosecuting where appropriate.
Working together, Royal Mail Group, the Communication Workers Union and the National Police Chiefs’ Council will be considering the rollout of the SLA nationally in England and Wales, to ensure Dog Attack incidents are dealt with consistently.
To help promote dog safety, a special Dog Awareness Week postmark will be applied to all stamped items from Monday 4 July 2016 to Friday 8 July 2016.
A wide range of activities will be taking place during Dog Awareness Week including; • Royal Mail postmen and women speak about their own experiences of dog attacks • 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
Top Postcode Areas for Highest Number of Attacks
Postcode Area Number of attacks
Nottingham 68 Peterborough 65 Northern Ireland 56 Tonbridge 56 Reading 54 Leeds 51 Sheffield 51 Plymouth 50 Guilford 48 Newcastle 48
Top Tips for Dog Owners
Even the most friendly 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 ideas to help your postman deliver your post in safety: • Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives. Secure your dog in the back garden or a closed 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 sign for or collect an item which can’t go through the letterbox. 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 before you let your pet back into your hallway. Check outside before letting the dog out to make sure the Postman or Woman has left and the gate is shut. 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.
Top Tips for Postmen & Women
AVOID & STAY SAFE
AVOID: A – Avoid interacting with all dogs V – Value yourself; don’t put yourself at risk O – Observe; keep your walk log up to date I – Inform others of potential risk to stop them being attacked D – Defend yourself if necessary, using your delivery equipment
Speak to your manager or CWU rep to find out more.
STAY SAFE: • 71% of attacks happened at a customer’s door or in their garden so take no risks • Never put your fingers through a letterbox – use a posting peg • If there’s a gate to the property, rattle it and wait a few seconds to see if a dog is present. Listen and look for signs of a dog’s presence, Dog bed, toys, food & water bowls • Never accept assurances – always ask owners to restrain their dogs and step away • Use your pouch or trolley as a barrier between you and a dog, if approached unexpectedly • Never tease or antagonise a dog • Report all dogs on your duty via the WRAP system and check Walk Logs • Under the revised Dangerous Dogs Act, postal workers have legal protection from dog attacks on private property • If you are attacked, we urge you to report it, even minor incidents – first to your manager and then to the police. You could help stop future attacks happening.
Royal Mail Group and the CWU are committed to driving Dog Attack numbers down. We now have the law in place to do it but we need to get messages across to members; Firstly, Don’t take risks! Secondly, Don’t ignore minor incidents! – Report it! It may be far worse next time! Thirdly, support investigations and prosecutions – too many injured members refuse to support prosecutions and give evidence, leaving dog owners guilty of criminal offences to get away scot-free!