Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Week

4 July 2016 6 Comments

It is Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Week (no, I wasn’t aware of it either!) and they’ve published the dog attack figures for April 2014 to April 2015, which are DOWN by 10% from the previous year to 2660.Jake (2)

Whilst even one attack by a dog is one too many, to place this in context the Royal Mail deliver to 29million addresses in the UK, but many will not be households (business addresses for example), so let’s take half as being family homes, and about one in four households owns a dog – so that’s 3.6million households and seven attacks daily, or about one for every half a million dog-owning households.

bishopFor every dog that attacks a post man or woman, there are 499,999 that don’t, every day.

71% of the attacks took place either at the front door or in the front garden. Assuming the postmen and women aren’t going into houses, that leaves 29% happening out in the street.  This is not responsible dog ownership.

These figures, being prior to May 2015, represent a time before S3 of the Dangerous Dogs Act applied to private property. Every dog attack after then, whether on public or private property, can be prosecuted. Penalties include fines, imprisonment, the dog being destroyed and being banned for dog ownership for life.

Please, if you have a dog that you have any concerns about, don’t expose yourself, and them, to the risk. It is fairly easy to keep your dog out of the way when the postman or woman calls. There are only one in half a million of us getting it wrong but that’s 2660 too many – and 2660 people who are being injured for trying to deliver your mail.

image001You’ve got two options.

One: keep your dog and the postman apart, for ever. It isn’t difficult, we have doors and opposable thumbs for working them. If you can’t work a door, erect a post-box for your letters at the gate (although good luck with that if you can’t work a door).

Two: train your dog not to attack the post man or woman. If you can’t do that, employ someone who can to help you (or go to a seminar called, let me see… maybe… “Dogs That Bite & Fight”?).dogsthatbiteandfight

Sorry, you’ve got three options.

Option three – do both.

I’ll be really interested to see the figures for next year, which will presumably include prosecutions – I hope fewer people will be involved for everyone’s sake.

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6 Comments »

  • Harriet said:

    Having a mailbox or other means of preventing contact is basic common sense and I feel the Royal Mail could be much more proactive in encouraging dog-owning households to use them (if they cannot legally actually require it). However they also need to do much more to train staff in safe interactions with dogs and to discipline VERY strictly those few rogue posties who still think it is fun to wind dogs up which may lead to an entirely innocent colleague being bitten. My dog was never a postie-chaser (because trained not to be) until we moved to a village with one such postie, and I rang his manager and told him I wanted the postie instructed to keep away from my dog because I did not want my training undermined. The Royal Mail may deny it but they DO exist and then delight in telling everyone how often they are ‘attacked’ by dogs (I believe it is called Munchausen Syndrome because they enjoy the attention). This chap has thankfully now retired much to my relief – and it wasn’t just my dog, I heard plenty of reports around the village about him winding up other people’s dog and alleging he had been bitten or attacked even when the dog was securely contained and couldn’t get anywhere near him. Maybe they could invite someone like yourself to design a training programme?

  • Harriet said:

    A further thought – does the Royal Mail publish details of what it defines as a ‘dog attack’ ie does there have to be actual contact between the postal worker and the dog? My dog was twice accused of having `attacked’the above postie when he had done nothing of the kind. On one occasion he barked in the front garden while the postie was walking away after having put the mail in the box on the OUTSIDE of the 6 ft gate I have put up (the dog was not even jumping up at the gate); on the other the postie came up behind us while I was picking up the poo, the dog found this threatening and again barked at him, unfortunately pulling his lead out of my hand. There was no growling, snarling or baring of teeth, he kept all four feet on the ground, and definitely no contact, yet this was reported as a `dog attack’ and no doubt included in their statistics for 2013/2014. It was after this incident that I contacted the manager and said I wanted the postie instructed to keep away from the dog; I felt it was deliberately provocative as he was aware that my dog was a nervous rescue who could feel threatened by strangers approaching suddenly. At my previous address I had actually been commended by the postie for my management of the dog and told it would be good if there were more dog owners like me. I’ve never had any incidents with any other postal workers or the couriers who deliver amongst other things his dog food, and they come INTO the front garden (there is another 6 ft fence between the front and back gardens to safely contain the dogs)

  • David Ryan (author) said:

    Yes, Harriet, there’s always a degree of subjectivity about what constitutes a dog attack. I guess if a person feels they’ve been attacked, then they’ve been attacked. It’s the same with Sec 3 of the DDA. I would have a high tolerance of what I would consider to be an attack, but there’s no reason why everyone should – it depends upon how they feel. An “attack” can only be defined by the person experiencing it.

  • Harriet said:

    This is precisely what worries me (and many responsible dog owners I know) about the DDA. Our dogs do not ‘attack’people (my excitable and vocal collie x jrt is walked with a Baskerville muzzle because I have had such aggressive reactions to his barking – even on one occasion when he was INSIDE a dog crate INSIDE my car) yet we still cannot feel secure from having them seized and potentially destroyed. And a worried owner makes for a worried dog – it feels like a vicious circle.

  • Harriet said:

    I have now read more detail of the Royal Mail’s dog attack statistics and noticed an interesting point not mentioned in your blog and not one that I have ever seen attention drawn to anywhere else, ie that most incidents occur during the school holidays and involve households with dogs AND children – those of us with dogs but no children apparently pose a far lower risk. Maybe the Royal Mail could invest some resources in an awareness-raising campaign around this and launch it just before the school summer holidays? Maybe it’s as much about training the children as training the dog? And do some of the dogs think they are protecting the children from an invading stranger? Maybe it could be suggested that these households use a mailbox for the duration of the school holidays?

    Back in the days when I was sent on management training courses I seem to remember there was a mantra which went ‘If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. So is it beyond Royal Mail management to review their own practice and put a bit of effort into encouraging the use of mailboxes? It really does make a difference, your dog sees the postie as someone you go down to the gate and have a friendly chat with, so they don’t pair the Royal Mail uniform with ‘threat’ and are cool about posties anywhere they meet them (and I’m talking about a dog who was highly reactive to men in general when I acquired him). Surely most people go out of their front gate at least once a day? Or if they are housebound and have a dog, someone comes to walk the dog? If you can’t put a mailbox on the outside of your gate you can get mailboxes which fit on the inside and have an aperture accessed from the outside – I had to do this because I have a shared front path and the neighbours objected to a mailbox on ‘their’ side of the gate. If you live in a village where a lot of mail us delivered by posties leaping in and out of vans it also helps if you can find one who doesn’t mind you and your dog following the van at a safe distance and training the dog not to be worried by this; if you can live within sight of the postbox from which mail is collected they soon become completely desensitized to Royal Mail vans.

    And Royal Mail workers themselves really can’t afford to let their own dogs ‘attack’ people in their village …. our previously mentioned ex-postie’s young springer spaniel was frequently out on the street without a lead and caused one resident to take refuge in someone else’s garden to avoid being approached by it. The woman admits to being exceptionally nervous of dogs (though she will pet my calm on-lead greyhound), nevertheless she was obviously caused apprehension and I guess under the subjective definition of the DDA it constituted a ‘dog attack’. And the postie certainly knew of her apprehensiveness, she made no secret of it, and took no action to keep the dog away from her. Expressions involving glass houses and stones come to mind …

  • David Ryan (author) said:

    Thanks for the comment Harriet. Of course we must be careful about projecting why the figures increase during the school holidays – correlation does not imply cause and effect. It could be simply because the warmer weather means people leave their doors open more – but it is probably more multi-factorial.
    And I completely agree that more could be done on both sides to reduce the incidence of attacks – we just need to set our minds to it.

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