Most of us have seen cartoons or postcards of a dog chasing or biting a postman, and such an image has become very firmly established as something of a stereotype, which many dog owners assume has no real basis in fact.
However, the truth of the matter is that dog attacks against postal workers and to an extent, other types of delivery personnel are surprisingly common, can be quite serious, and also, can cost the owner of the dog in question a significant amount of money and even potentially the life of their dog.
All dog owners have a responsibility, both morally and in law, to ensure that their dog does not pose a danger to other people (or other pets or even property). Yet an alarming number of dog owners wrongly believe that on their own property, this law does not apply and that if you own a dog, the rule reverts to “enter at your own risk.”
This viewpoint is not only irresponsible but in direct contravention of the law, and even on your own private property, you are responsible for ensuring that callers such as the postman can get to your door safely, or otherwise deliver goods or make contact with residents as needed.
Dog attacks on postmen are comparatively common in relation to other types of dog attacks; in fact, one pet insurance company shared data a couple of years ago indicating that dog attacks on postal workers were responsible for a full third of all claims made against dog insurance holder’s public liability insurance for personal injury.
But how common are dog attacks on postal workers really, and why and how do they tend to occur? In this article, we’ll share some statistics from the Royal Mail and also pet insurance providers regarding dog attacks on postal workers and claims against third party liability insurance for dogs that will provide the answers to these questions and more, and that might surprise you.
Dogs attacking posties is such a common occurrence that this alone accounts for almost a third of all personal injury claims made against dog owners who hold third party liability coverage for their dogs.
A personal injury claim can run into thousands or tens of thousands of pounds – or even more – and so is very serious if founded. If your dog isn’t insured, this is money you would need to raise yourself in the event that your dog attacked a delivery worker.
Data released by the Royal Mail indicates that Nottinghamshire is potentially the most dangerous place to be a delivery worker, seeing more posties injured by dogs here than anywhere else. During the year that this observation was made, a total number of 2,600 dog attacks against postal workers occurred UK-wide.
A postman needs to be able to get to your post box to deliver the mail, which usually means coming through your yard or garden. 35% of all recorded dog attacks on postmen occur in the garden, which indicates that this will generally happen because a dog is loose in the garden at the time, often having been let out deliberately.
If your postie cannot reach your door without encountering your dog, you’re leaving yourself wide open to risk.
School holidays are particularly dangerous when it comes to posties and dogs! In fact, there’s a 10% increase in dog attacks on postal workers during summer holiday periods, which may be due to dogs being out in the garden with the children more often during these times, seeing themselves as responsible for defending the children, or inadequately supervised by an adult.
Even more dog attacks on postal workers happen at the door than happen in the garden – 36% of all attacks, in fact. This is very interesting because it indicates that the key danger zone for over a third of dog attacks is when the postal worker is on the threshold of the home.
If you open the door for the postman, be sure to stay aware of where your dog is, and that they cannot push past you or otherwise pose a risk. Bear in mind that your letter box should be designed to ensure that your dog can’t bite the postman’s fingers either, which is still classed as a dog attack.
On which note….
Dogs nipping or biting the postman’s fingers through the letterbox is a big problem, and can cause serious and life-changing injuries. You can prevent this by fitting a cage to the back of your letterbox, or using an exterior letterbox instead.
Finally, it is male delivery staff that are targeted by dogs more often than women; this may be because dogs often see women as less threatening in general, or because men may be more likely to be dominant or defensive around a dog, increasing the risk of the dog escalating the situation.