Bill Wiggin MP spoke out about the dangers of dogs this week.
Following 29 dog attacks on postal workers in North Herefordshire in the last year, and the recent incident in Leominster, Bill Wiggin MP supported the Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Session in Parliament during Dog Awareness Week which runs to the 4 July.
Mr Wiggin and more than 70 other MPs attended the session on Wednesday 2 July in Westminster, supported by Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Dogs Trust, with Royal Mail Group Director of Safety, Health, Wellbeing and Sustainability, Shaun Davis.
Bill Wiggin MP said; “I am pleased to have attended the session but I was disappointed to learn that there had been 29 dog attacks in North Herefordshire between April 2013 and 2014.
Royal Mail, CWU, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and Dogs Trust are doing a fantastic job promoting responsible dog ownership and I fully support this important campaign.
In Westminster I am delighted we have made the appropriate changes so the punishment now fits the crime.
Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act which came into force in May 2014 increased the maximum prison sentences for both fatal attacks, from two years to 14, and attacks causing injury, from two years to five.”
Royal Mail has published the results of a survey of MPs and Assembly Members about their personal experiences of being bitten by a dog.
The survey found that politicians face similar risks of being attacked by a dog to postal workers when out canvassing or delivering leaflets. Just over half of the near-50 respondents revealed they had an incident with a dog.
Dog attacks are a significant hazard faced by postmen and women on a daily basis. On average around nine postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK with over 3,300 attacks taking place from April 2013 to April 2014, some leading to a permanent disabling injury. The number of attacks has risen by 8 per cent nationally since 2012*.
The campaign is being held in partnership with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and has received support from a wide range of organisations and animal charities. This includes Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross, National Animal Welfare Trust and the National Dog Warden Association.
Shaun Davis, Royal Mail Group Director of Health, Safety, Wellbeing and Sustainability said; “We’re pleased that Bill Wiggin MP is lending his support to our important campaign.
“As we’ve seen from our survey, postal workers are not alone in facing dog attacks – politicians experience the same risk of being bitten by a dog every time they canvass or deliver a leaflet through someone’s door. Nobody should face this hazard whilst simply trying to do their job.
“Our first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers. We appeal to owners to keep their pets under control, especially if they know their pets have a territorial nature. It can also be simple things that help – for example just making sure the dog is kept inside when the postman calls.”
* Royal Mail has changed the way dog attacks are measured and last year’s reported number has been rebased using the new methodology. As a result last year’s April 2012 to April 2013 figure has been recalculated to 3,072 attacks. There has been an 8% increase to 3.311 attacks taking place between April 2013 to April 2014.
Top 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 their family, they can become unpredictable.
Here are some ideas to help your postman or woman deliver your post in safety:
- Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives. Place your pet in the back garden or a faraway room.
- If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get round to the front when the postman calls.
- Dog attacks can happen when you’ve opened the door to sign for an item. Please 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.
- Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered
- Wait 10 minutes after your mail has arrived to let your pet back into your hallway. Keep everything as calm and low-key as possible.
- If your dog likes to attack your mail consider installing a wire letter receptacle. 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.
Legal Protection in England and Wales
Royal Mail welcomes changes to the Dangerous Dog Act that came into force in May. This new legislation now ensures our postmen and women will have legal protection over attacks by dogs when they enter private property, including a customer’s garden. Tougher penalties will also be imposed for irresponsible dog owners.
Previously, legal protection over attacks by dogs did not extend ‘beyond the garden gate’. This legal loophole was a particular issue for postmen and women, who each visit hundreds of private addresses every day on their delivery rounds.
The legal loophole in England and Wales was highlighted in an independent report published in November 2012, commissioned by Royal Mail Group’s Chairman Donald Brydon. The report set out the recommendations from an inquiry into dog attacks on postal workers, led by former High Court Judge Sir Gordon Langley.
The law had already changed in Scotland and Northern Ireland.