AT least one postal worker gets attacked by a dog every week in Bristol, new figures show.

There have been 211 dog attacks on postal workers in the last three years – but unions say the figure could be even higher because many incidents go unreported.

Figures released to the Evening Post show that there were 77 incidents in 2010, 62 the year before and 72 in 2008.

There have also been a total of nine incidents reported involving “other” animals, and two involving insects.

The figures were obtained after a Freedom of Information request submitted to Royal Mail by the Evening Post.

Former postman Mike Hamilton, who is now the area health and safety representative for the Communication Workers Union in the Bristol region, said he believed dog attacks had significantly increased in the area over the last three or four years.

“I can guarantee that when I get my weekly reports of incidents, there is at least one dog incident in there,” said Mr Hamilton.

“It is a big problem. I think it has got worse over the last few years partly because of changes in deliveries – postmen and women now deliver later in the day, when dog-owners may have gone to work and are not around to keep their pets under control.

“We have had some horrific injuries where people have needed hospital treatment, but there are also a lot of smaller bites or run-ins with dogs that don’t get reported. People also sometimes are reluctant to report an incident because they get to know people on their round and don’t want to get them into trouble.

“Postmen getting attacked by dogs is something that everyone jokes about, but when it happens to you it can be very traumatising. Believe you me, it does not matter if it is a Jack Russell or an alsatian, if you get one going for you it can really affect you.”

Mr Hamilton delivered post in the Hambrook and Winterbourne areas for 15 years.

“I have had my fair share of problems with dogs when I worked as a postman,” he said.

“I once had an alsatian rip into my arm, which needed stitches. At another place a large dog used to jump up at the window and one time managed to get half out of the window as he tried to go for me.”

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail takes the safety of staff very seriously, and detailed advice is provided to all employees on how to reduce the risk of an attack by an animal.

“Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union have pledged to work together to raise awareness of the dangers of aggressive animals, dogs in particular, and all delivery managers are urged to remind their teams of guidelines designed to minimise the risk of attack.

“Proactive measures by the business include sending letters to owners of aggressive animals and warning staff where dangerous animals live.

“Whilst the Royal Mail has a legal commitment to deliver to all addresses, it also has a duty under Health and Safety law to reduce risks and prevent injury to our people.

“Every attack or incident should be reported to a manager and all reported incidents are investigated by the manager who will, if necessary, involve the appropriate people within the local community.”

The Kennel Club told the Evening Post new legislation should be introduced to allow every dog attack to lead to a prosecution.

Caroline Kisko said: “There are more than eight million dogs in the UK and the overwhelming majority are well trained, so they will never display aggression towards other dogs or people.

“But if a dog has learned to be protective over its property and a stranger approaches then it may cause injury.

“Every dog attack should be taken seriously and the Kennel Club is campaigning to have the dangerous dogs legislation overhauled so attacks that take place on private property can be prosecuted. Legislation should penalise irresponsible owners and those dogs that actually display aggressive behaviour rather than focusing on individual breeds.”


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