DOG-OWNERS are being asked to keep their pets under control in their gardens and nearby, following an appeal from Royal Mail and the Communications Workers Union. Post and newspaper deliverers are amongst callers who are at risk of attacks by dogs, which is increased during the summer months.
Royal Mail say that thousands of postmen and women across the UK were attacked by dogs over the last year. Across the BA postcode area, over 42 postmen and women were attacked by dogs from April 2011 to April 2012, down 11% on the previous year, but Royal Mail say this figure is still “unacceptably high.”
Royal Mail’s sorting office on the Northacre Industrial Estate covers Westbury and the surrounding villages. They explain that a zero tolerance policy means if a dog is loose, they won’t deliver.
Darren Phillips, collections and delivery office manager said, “It’s a hot topic with us. We haven’t had an incident lately, but a couple of months ago a post lady had her high visibility jacket bitten and ripped – fortunately she was able to get away. Our first thing is to suspend delivery until it’s investigated. In this case, we were contacted by the customer who apologised and put a letter box on the gate and we were able to resume delivery. That’s what we want, now there is no risk to our postlady.
“In the summer holidays, the kids are at home playing in the garden, doors are open, the postman comes and the dog runs out and there’s nowhere for the postman to go.
“We have a lot of health and safety processes with dogs. All our postmen have to highlight dogs on their delivery and there are 391 in Westbury that are a problem – wherever there is an incident such as post ripped out of hands or a dog loose. We’ve got a zero tolerance policy; if there’s a dog out, we’re not delivering.”
Dave Joyce, CWU’s national health, safety, and environment officer, explains that they annually see a sharp increase in dog attacks over the school summer holidays.
He says, “Postmen and women face increased danger during school holidays when parents and children are at home with dogs sometimes allowed unsupervised in the garden or out onto the streets without restraints. Front, side or back doors and windows are left open and dogs are in many cases free to move in and out of the property when postal delivery staff arrive. This carefree attitude greatly increases the risk of attacks which year on year consistently increase and peak during the prolonged summer school holiday period.
“3,000 – 4,000 postmen and women were attacked across the UK by dogs from April 2011 to April 2012, according to Royal Mail statistics. Joint efforts by CWU reps and regional Royal Mail safety teams have driven numbers down, since the 2007/8 peak of 6,500 attacks. While the number of attacks has fallen, it still remains unacceptably high and the nature and seriousness of the injuries being received by members is a growing concern.
“Royal Mail’s stated policy is that the first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of the delivery workforce who provide a valuable service across the UK to the customers.
“However, even just being threatened by an unrestrained aggressive dog is a frightening situation for Royal Mail delivery staff and the appeal is to owners to keep their pets under control, especially if they know their pets have a territorial nature.”
The White Horse News is delivered by hand to 9,800 properties in Westbury and the surrounding villages, with deliverers covering around 50 rounds.
Linda Maslen, distributions manager, explains that deliverers’ safety is paramount. She says, “Unfortunately we have had deliverers attacked by dogs. We tell deliverers that if there is a ‘beware of the dog’ sign, or a dog loose in the garden, they don’t have to go in. I ask them to tell me what house that is, so that if someone rings up and complains that they haven’t had their paper, I can tell them why.
“The safety of our deliverers is most important, even at the expense of people not getting their paper. We give every deliverer health and safety instructions, which includes safety with dogs.”
Royal Mail has issued
the following tips
for dog owners:
• Even the most lovable dog can be a danger to postal staff. Dogs are territorial by nature and if they feel they need to protect themselves, their territory or family, they can become unpredictable.
• Please keep your dog indoors around the time that the postman/woman (or any other lawful visitor) usually calls to deliver mail.
• Dog attacks can happen when you’ve opened the door to sign for an item. Please secure your dog and 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.
• If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get round to the front when the postman/woman calls. Be aware of open side and back doors and window from where the dog can get out.
• If your dog likes to attack your mail consider installing a letter box cage. 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.