31 March 2021
Our Ref: P18/21
To: All Branches
Dog Owner Convicted after Postwoman has Finger Tip Bitten Off:
An irresponsible dog owner received a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay a Rushden postwoman and CWU member £2000 compensation after conviction for a Dangerous Dogs Act offence.
A Rushden postwoman had the top of her finger bitten off by irresponsible owner Shanice Blackette’s Shar-Pei dog as she was delivering mail on her round and posting it through the front door of a home in Catlin Way, Rushden, Northants on December 12 last year. She was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment.
The dog owner Blackette, 27, was convicted of an ‘aggravated’ offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act, of allowing her dog to be dangerously out of control and causing injury. She pleaded guilty at Northampton Magistrates’ Court.
Blackette was sentenced to a 12 months ‘Conditional Discharge’ and was ordered to pay the postwoman £2,000 in compensation and surcharge costs.
Dave Joyce National Health and Safety Officer of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) that represents 200,000 workers including the nation’s postmen and women said in reaction to the conviction of dog owner Shanice Blackette;
“The CWU welcomes the Court Judgement” but he added “However this owner got off lightly and the injuries could have been much worse. Irresponsible dog owners are a curse to the nation’s postal workers who deliver daily to 30 million UK addresses.”
Dave Joyce said “3,000 postmen and women are attacked by dogs every year whilst going about their jobs – many suffering serious, debilitating and life-changing injuries. Dog owners can face up to 5 years in prison and an unlimited fine for allowing their dogs to injure a person (14 years in the case of a fatal attack).”
Dave added “My strong advice to all dog owners and Royal Mail/Parcelforce customers is this: If you’re a dog owner and have an animal that attacks the mail when it comes through the letter box then the simple solution is to buy a letter box cage for around £15 and fit it to the front door. That will protect both the customer’s mail and the postal worker’s fingers. Alternatively, an outside mail box can be fitted to the home or perimeter fence as indeed many more responsible people with dogs now do. People must control their dogs and ensure they are in a safe place when the mail is delivered – that’s the law – it’s a pity so many dog owners are unaware of the Law.”
Dave Joyce led the CWU ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign from 2007 to 2014 achieving major changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act – extending the law in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The major change was extending the law to cover private property including bites through the letter box. 82% of dog attacks on postmen and postwomen occur on the doorstep or front garden path in UK properties. The changes also included extending Police powers and huge increases in prison sentences and fines for those that commit Dangerous Dogs Act offences.
Dave Joyce CWU has additionally expressed the concerns of the CWU regarding recently published research by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association PFMA revealing that a staggering 3.2 million households in the UK have acquired a pet since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In its latest Pet Population Data survey, the PFMA said the big increase was driven by younger families, with two-thirds of new owners aged between 16-34. According to the survey there are now 34m pets in the UK, including 12m cats and 12m dogs, 3.2m small mammals such as guinea pigs and hamsters, 3m birds and 1.5m reptiles. There are also 5m aquaria. This equates to 17m households responsible for a pet’s welfare. The study raised pet welfare concerns. The CWU’s concerns centre on new inexperienced owners failing to control their dogs and being unaware of the legal duties.
(The above Press Release has been reproduced for the information of CWU Reps, Branches and Regions)
Dave Joyce National Health, Safety & Environment Officer