There were 1,916 dog attacks reported on its staff last year, an average of 37 attacks every week across the UK, with some leading to permanent and disabling injuries.
The figures have been released at the start of the 11th Dog Awareness Week which runs to 9th July 2023 and aims to encourage responsible dog ownership. Royal Mail is appealing to dog owners to ensure they understand the often-devastating impact of dog attacks on postmen and postwomen and take proper measures to ensure their pets pose no threat to postal workers through responsible dog ownership.
Tunbridge Wells was the area that had the most incidents reported during the year to 31 March 2023, with 65 postmen or women suffering dog attacks, closely followed by Belfast, with 56 attacks. Sheffield was in third place with 50 attacks on Royal Mail colleagues.
The total number of attacks represents a 15% increase during 2022/23.
As in previous years, the majority of dog attacks, 902 (47%), took place at the front door. A further 515 (27%) of dog attacks took place in the garden, driveway or yard. 118 (6%) of attacks took place in the street or road.
There were 381 injuries suffered through the letterbox - accounting for 20% of attacks on postal workers. Letterbox attacks were the subject of a 2020 High Court ruling that stated dog owners (or those in care of a dog) can be prosecuted if their pets have free access to the letterbox and cause injury to any delivery operative, whether the owner is at home or not.
Dog attacks on Royal Mail colleagues resulted in more than 3014 days of absence in 2022/23 with the longest period of absence being 139 days. Royal Mail is committed to ensuring the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers across the length and breadth of the UK and in every community.
AVOID a dog attack by following these five steps:
AVOID interaction with all dogs
VALUE yourself – it could really happen to you
OBSERVE our Standards:
- Is your walk log up to date?
- Have you marked dogs on your frame with a yellow dot?
- Have you marked your mail with a ‘D’ where dogs reside?
INFORM - report all new dog hazards to a manager
DEFEND yourself if necessary, using your delivery equipment
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 deliver your post in safety:
- Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or postwoman arrives. Place your pet in the back garden or a faraway room
- Never open the door when your dog is behind you
- If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog could get around to the front when the postman or postwoman 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 or postwoman’s fingers
- If it’s not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman or postwoman delivering your mail, please consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property.
Please ensure your dog is microchipped, wearing a collar and tag, and that your contact details on the tag and microchip are up to date.