A postwoman who suffered a horrific dog attack has teamed up with Merseyside Police to urge dog owners to keep their pets under control.
Claire Millen, a Liverpool postwoman, was bitten when the dog owner opened the door as she was delivering mail to the house in Norris Green last September. She needed several stiches, but says it will take much longer for the emotional scars to heal.
Claire, 32, said: “It was a terrifying experience and I still have the physical scars to prove it. I am now scared to take my children out to the park in case there are dogs running around there.
“That’s why I fully support Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness Week 2015 campaign and I would urge owners to make sure their dogs are safely in the house and under their control whenever anyone calls at the door.”
On average eight postmen and women a day are set upon by dogs across the UK with more than 2,960 attacks taking place from April 2014 to April 2015.
So Merseyside Police have teamed up with Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) to mark National Dog Awareness Week to esnure dog owners are aware of the penalties they can now face if their pet attacks a postal worker.
Royal Mail have a list of nearly 7,500 houses in Merseyside which have displayed signs to say there is a dog inside that may be protective of their owners, or property, allowing postal workers to be alerted to the presence of the dogs on their route. It enables postal workers to approach each address with caution and can help dogs feel less threatened by their presence when delivering mail.
The initiative has helped curb the number of staff being bitten, but many are still being attacked.
Inspector Gareth Phelps, from Merseyside Police’s Dogs and Mounted Section, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting Royal Mail’s Dog Awareness week. We have worked in partnership with the Royal Mail and the CWU to use new legislation brought in last May making it an offence to have a dog dangerously out of control in a private place, as well as a public place, to protect postal workers from dog attacks.
“Like many others, postal workers are dependent on people being responsible dog owners as they go about their job.
“We are working to encourage the reporting of incidents by Royal Mail employees to the police and to assure them that we now have more powers than ever to ensure the owners of those dogs are brought to justice.
“It is essential that we maximise the opportunities the new legislation gives us to improve the service we provide to all members of our communities. We are seeking to improve public safety while giving due consideration to the welfare of the dogs involved.”
The number of court cases involving attacks by dogs in the UK has increased by 62%, with 718 cases brought against dog owners or handlers in magistrate courts from June to December last year, compared with 444 during the previous six months.
Over the same period, the number of successful prosecutions increased by 71%, with 553 convictions secured compared with 325.
The law change means the owner of a dog who has killed a person can now face 14 years in jail, while the owner of a dog causing serious injury can be jailed for five years.
Jamie McGovern, CWU area health and safety representative, said: “We take a no tolerance approach. If a postal worker perceives a threat to their safety when approaching a property, they are advised not to deliver to that address. If a dog is dangerously out of control in a street, we would not send one of our members of staff into that street so everyone suffers due to the actions of one irresponsible dog owner.
“We want people to consider they could be prosecuted if their dog bites the fingers of a postal worker through a letter box. Installing a cage to the letter box indoors, an external letter box or simply keeping a dog away from the front door could help prevent a postman or woman suffering a traumatic ordeal and sustaining life-changing injuries, and could prevent a dog owner themself from being jailed.”
“We want people to understand what the change in the law means for them. We are working at many local community events promoting responsible dog ownership and explaining the change in law to dog owners. Simply keeping a dog under control and away from the front door could help prevent a postman or woman suffering a traumatic ordeal and sustaining life-changing injuries, and could prevent a dog owner themself from being prosecuted.”
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