8 February 2023
Our Ref: P18/23
To: All Branches
Dog Bites Put 9,000 People a Year in Hospital. Why is the Law Toothless? – Sunday Times 5 February 2023:
Following 14 fatal dog attacks in 14 months and two recent deaths in the last month highlighting an alarming rise in dog attacks, the Sunday Times ran an almost full-page article on the issue last Sunday with a heavy focus on dog attacks on postal workers amongst a broad ranging look society’s unawareness or denial about the dangers and national crisis in the UK.
The article featured interviews with the CWU National Health and Safety Officer and postwoman dog attack victim Sarah King.
Some facts and statistics covered were:
The number of dogs has boomed since lockdown. There are about 13 million in the UK compared with 7.6 million in 2012.
Non-fatal injuries from dog attacks have also risen steadily in the past 20 years.
9,000 people a year are admitted to hospital with severe dog bites — up from 7,500 in 2017.
The cost to the NHS is an estimated £71 million.
60 people have died in dog attacks in the UK since 2000.
There are 2,500-3,000 dog bites to postmen and women a year.
In the past five years, 1,000 postmen and women have had fingers bitten off/amputated as a result of dog attacks through letterboxes.
In 2007 Paul Coleman, Sheffield postman and father of two, was mauled for 15 minutes by two pitbull cross dogs while delivering the mail. He was in intensive care for weeks and needed extensive skin grafts, surgery and counselling and almost lost his right arm. This attack and 6,500 dog attacks on postal workers that year triggered the CWU’s launch of the ‘Bite-Back’ campaign which 7 years later ended in a major victory for the CWU with major changes and extensions of the Dangerous Dogs Act.
The absence of mandatory ‘Third Party Liability Insurance’ for dog owners continues to be a major problem for injured victims who can only secure personal injury compensation if the dog owner is insured or has financial resources.
Dave Joyce said; “Dog attacks and dog control law and order is a national crisis in this country. It’s out of control. Every day I wake up and I think this is the day when I’m going to get that call to say that one of our members has been killed. I’m sick of the words of sympathy from police and politicians every time there is a dog attack death. It’s not enough. The victims are being denied justice. How much further is the government going to allow this to progress before something is done about it? When a dog bites one of our members we are too often faced with police forces who are reluctant to prosecute the owner. Perhaps due to the backlog of cases in the legal system, lack of police resources, other priorities etc. The police too often try to dispose of dog attack cases quickly and try to get the victim to drop the case and instead accept the police issuing a ‘police caution’ or a ‘community resolution order’, which are informal ways of dealing with what is actually a very serious offence. Enforcement of the law is woefully poor. The courts don’t hand down appropriate sentences. They don’t ban dog owners from owning dogs, they don’t issue compensation orders. It’s completely inconsistent.”
Read a copy of the full story attached.
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer