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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Bite-Back Campaign

Dave Joyce
CWU Health, Safety and Environment Officer

I've been in the postal service all my working life and have seen the devastating effect that dog attacks have on postal workers.

6,000 dog attacks on postal workers

Members of my trade union, the Communication Workers Union, suffer around 6,000 dog attacks each year.

Some people never return to work for fear of repeat attacks while others suffer personal and relationship problems as a result of their injuries.

People think the stereotype of dogs nipping posties' ankles is funny, but it's anything but a joke.

That's why we launched the 'Bite-Back' campaign last year.

The worst attacks I've seen have occurred in the last two years.

Paul Coleman, a delivery postman in Sheffield, was carrying out his deliveries when two dogs attacked him, grabbing a leg each and dragging him to the ground where, for several terrifying minutes, they subjected him to a vicious mauling.

Paul suffered serious leg, arm and chest injuries and was in hospital for six days, undergoing skin grafts and plastic surgery.

Elaine Smith had the top of her index finger bitten off while delivering in Wakefield last year while another delivery worker in Watford escaped from a terrifying dog chase at a block of flats by jumping off the first floor balcony and breaking both his ankles.

Alan Smith was attacked by a German Shepherd in Milton Keynes and needed over 100 stitches on his face and another delivery worker in Somerset received serious injuries to his testicles last year which left him in a very bad condition for over a month.

German Shepherd Dog
German Shepherd savaged delivery worker in Somerset

In each of these cases, and the many others that take place every week, postal workers are not protected by the law because the majority of attacks take place on private property.

In most of the cases above the dog owners have received complete discharges while the postal workers have the lasting effects of injuries and no access to compensation or prosecution.

When we asked Defra ministers and officials last year to change the deficient law, they were sympathetic but were concerned about public perception of dogs not being able to protect private premises from burglars if changes were made which is utterly ridiculous.

Postal, gas, water and electricity workers all have to visit private properties as part of their job.

The current legal position also means that District Nurses, Home Helps, health visitors, care workers and meals on wheels volunteers could all get attacked without protection - Westminster is out of touch!

I own dogs and bred a Crufts champion English Bull Terrier not long ago.

The CWU Bite-Back campaign is not an anti-dog campaign.

It aims to get the law modernised to protect workers who have to go onto private property and hold to account irresponsible, careless and reckless owners of vicious dogs.

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