WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT: Union warns dog-owner "got off lightly" after £2,000 compensation bill for attack on Northamptonshire postie
"3,000 postmen and woman are attacked by dogs every year .. many suffer life-changing injuries," says CWU safety officer
A Northamptonshire woman ordered to pay £2,000 after her dog bit off part of a postal worker's finger "got off lightly." according to a union official.
Northampton magistrates gave Shanice Blackette, 27, a conditional discharge alongside the compensation after she admitting an offence under the Dangerous Dogs Act at a hearing last month.
But Communication Workers Union national safety officer, Dave Joyce, said: "The CWU welcomes this sentence but the owner got off lightly and the injuries could have been much worse."
The Royal Mail postie was bitten by Blackette's Shar Pei while delivering in Rushden just before Christmas 2020. She was taken to hospital and told that part of the top of a finger had been lost during the attack.
Shar Peis are traditionally Chinese fighting dogs but much-loved in Europe for their excessively wrinkled skin.
The CWU campaigns to prevent injuries such as this and want to share images off injuries suffered by its members to show the impact of dog attacks.
Mr Joyce led a successful CWU ‘Bite-Back’ Campaign from 2007 to 2014 extending the law to cover private property — including being bitten through a letter box — increasing police powers with prison sentences and fines for guilty dog-owners.
He added: "Around 3,000 postmen and women are attacked by dogs every year whilst going about their jobs – many suffering serious, debilitating and life-changing injuries.
"Dog owners can face up to five years in prison and unlimited fines for allowing their dogs to injure a person.
“My strong advice is If you’re dog owner and have an animal that attacks the mail when it comes through the letter box then the simple solution is to buy a letterbox cage for around £15 and fit it to the front door.
"That will protect both the customers mail and the postal workers fingers. Alternatively an outside mail box can be fitted to the home or perimeter fence as indeed many more responsible people with dogs now do.
"People must control their dogs and ensure they are in a safe place when the mail is delivered – it's a pity so many dog owners are unaware that’s the law.
Royal Mail bosses pledge to pursue private prosecutions where employees are attacked but the police fail to take what it calls "appropriate action."
A spokesperson said: “We know that the majority of dog owners are responsible, however, 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.
“We see on average 47 dog attacks per week — seven every day over a six-day working week.
"This continues to be a figure we must focus on reducing."
Top Tips for Dog Owners
■ If your dog has access to the letterbox, install a cage or basket to protect fingers.
■ Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives — in the back garden or a faraway room.
■ Dog attacks can happen when you’ve opened the door to sign for an item. Please keep your dog in another room and make sure children don’t open the door, as dogs can push by.
■ Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered.
■ Wait ten minutes after your mail has arrived to let your pet back into your hallway. Keep everything as calm and low-key as possible.
■ Fit a secure mailbox outside your property if it’s not practical for you to keep your dog away.