Our Ref: P18/21
To: All Branches
Union Warns Dog-Owner “Got Off Lightly” After £2,000 Compensation Bill For Attack On Northamptonshire Postie – Finger Tip Bitten Off Through The Letter Box (Northampton Chronicle & Echo): Plus Fatal Dog Attack On 85 Year Old Pensioner In Rowley Regis/Near Birmingham:
For your information and interests, please see attached press cutting which appeared in the Northampton Chronicle & Echo regional press over the Easter break. This reports on the successful conviction of a dog owner who allowed her dog to attack the mail as it was posted through the letterbox, biting off the tip of the postwoman’s finger (an all too common occurrence). The dog owner received a 12-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay the victim £2000 compensation.
In response to the press enquiry and interview we welcome the sentence but made the point that the dog owner got off lightly and the injuries could have been much worse (dog owners can face up to five years in prison and unlimited fines for allowing their dogs to injure a person).
Through the press, we also strongly advised dog owners that have an animal that attacks the mail when it comes through the letter box that the simple solution is to buy a letterbox cage for around £15 and fit it to the front door which 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.
You will also have heard the very sad news regarding an 85-year-old pensioner mauled to death in the back garden of her home in Rowley Regis just outside Birmingham on Friday when a neighbour’s two dogs escaped by bursting through a fence into the garden, launching a sustained attack, following which she tragically died at the scene.
The worry always is that these irresponsible owners with powerful, vicious dogs of this kind will allow them to escape and attack the postman/woman – our members – whilst they are delivering mail and parcels.
In respect of these two cases – would ASRs/WSRs please remind all members:
Don’t put your fingers through the letter box (dogs don’t always bark and make a lot of noise – some stay deadly silent just waiting for the opportunity to attack).
Stay alert and be aware of dogs on premises at all times! If in doubt always err on the side of caution. ‘If In Doubt – Stay Out!’
Top Tips for Royal Mail and Parcelforce Outdoor Delivery and Collection Members:
A–Avoid interacting with all dogs
V–Value yourself and don’t take risks
O–Observe; keep your walk log/WRAP up to date
I–Inform workmates of potential dog risks to stop them being attacked
D–Defend yourself if necessary, using your delivery equipment
Never put your fingers through a letterbox.
83% of attacks happen at a customer’s door or on the garden path – so take no risks.
Listen and look for signs of a dog’s presence.
Never accept a dog owner’s assurances that the dog is OK – ask the owner to restrain their dogs and put them safe.
Use your pouch or trolley as a barrier between you and a dog, if approached unexpectedly.
Report all dogs on your duty via the WRAP system and check Walk Logs.
Reports all dog attacks and near misses no matter how minor – it could be serious next time!
Report incidents 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! – ‘If In Doubt – Stay Out!’
Secondly, don’t ignore minor incidents! – report it! It may be far worse next time!
Thirdly, under the Dangerous Dogs Act, postal workers have legal protection from dog attacks on private property. Support investigations and prosecutions. Too many injured members refuse to support prosecutions and give evidence, leaving bad dog owners who are guilty of criminal offences to get away scot-free!
Press Report on Rushden, Northamptonshire Dog Attack – Postal Worker Finger Tip Bitten Off.
Police/Press Report On Rowley Regis/Birmingham Area Fatal Dog Attack On Pensioner In Her Back Garden.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer