RM/CWU National Dog Awareness Week 2022 – Monday 4 July – Sunday 10 July 2022:
Dog attacks remain a major safety hazard and concern for postmen and women across the UK. As Royal Mail returns to ‘business as usual’ on deliveries, the trend is that dog attacks are on the increase with a number of serious attacks occurring in recent weeks and months. The key objectives of RMG/CWU Dog Awareness Week are to remind both the public to be aware of their responsibilities as a responsible dog owner and to remind our postal worker members not to drop their guard, to be alert to dog risks and be vigilant, keeping safe and taking no risks plus, not putting their fingers through the letterbox. The scale of the dog attack and dog bites through the letterbox problems across the UK should never be underestimated! Never think it’ll never happen to you! Too many CWU members have suffered the devastating, terrorising and painful effects of a savage dog attack. The physical and psychological injuries stay forever and many victims are no longer working on deliveries as a direct result of a serious, savage dog attack.
- 33,000 dog attacks on postmen and women in the last 10 years.
- 6 dog attacks on postal workers across the UK every day.
- 32 dog attacks on postal workers every week.
- 1,700 reported dog attacks on postal workers in 2021/22.
- 450 dog bites through letterboxes every year.
- 1000 postmen and women have had a finger of part fingers bitten off through the letterbox in the last 5 years.
- 80% of dog attacks take place at the front door or on the garden footpath or drive.
- Animal welfare experts have warned of an epidemic of dog attacks as the number of adults admitted to hospital for dog bites has tripled in the last 20 years and costs the NHS £75 million a year.
- NHS data shows that more than 10,000 people a year need hospital treatment after a dog attack.
- Alder Hay Hospital in Liverpool reported that the number of children admitted for dog attack injuries had surged by over 70%.
- The RSPCA are concerned that the number of dogs in the UK has surged by 4 million over the last three years.
- There have been 56 recorded dog attack deaths in the UK from 1986 to 2022 and 5 people have already been mauled to death by dogs this year.
UK Dog Population – Dramatic Increase Report Researchers!
Recently published research and data has reported the proportion of UK people buying or
adopting dogs has increased dramatically. The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) and ‘Statista’ Research and Analysis report that the UK dog population has substantially increased, confirming that around 3.5 million additional households in the UK have acquired a pet during the two-year pandemic period. Both organisations state that the population of dogs kept as pets in the United Kingdom (UK) is now estimated at 13 million in 2022, which constitutes a marked increase from a decade earlier in 2012, when the dog population in the UK was around 8 million.
Potentially Aggressive Dogs and Irresponsible Dog Owners
The worrying indications from this research are that over half of these animals have been isolated. Many of these dogs haven’t been trained or socialised, never having left their home and never having met other humans outside their own households. Many of these new dog owners now regret buying a dog and many want rid of them. These new dogs can be a risk to postal workers. Fear and nervousness towards strangers can result in aggression. More than a third (33%) of people who bought a dog during lockdown fear their dogs may bite a stranger as these dogs meet new people for the first time.
As we in the CWU know well – without responsible dog owners and without proper socialisation and training, these dogs can have serious behavioural problems, such as nervous behaviour, bad temperament, aggression and the risk of attacking people and postal workers is very real. There could therefore be major consequences for CWU members/postal workers making deliveries to homes and companies with these potentially aggressive dogs in the hands of irresponsible owners failing to control them – time will tell.
CWU Reps Actions, Activities and Messages to Members During The Week
The Health, Safety and Environment Department is calling on all CWU Reps to fully engage with and support the forthcoming 2022 ‘RM/CWU Dog Awareness Week’ to ensure that awareness is raised amongst our delivery workforce members regarding the very evident dangers out there in gardens and behind the street doors of millions of addresses across the UK and the growing risk of dog attacks and dog bites through the letterbox which is an area we are focusing on during Dog Awareness Week.
The key message to members needs to be loudly reinforced, reminding them that they must stay alert and vigilant at all times, be aware of dangerous dog hazards, take no risks and avoid any contact and interaction with dogs. Plus – ‘Don’t put your fingers through the letterbox!’ and follow the ‘AVOID’ approach.
The ‘AVOID’ Message to Members
During the week, the CWU HQ Health, Safety & Environment Department want all CWU Reps, especially Safety Reps and Delivery Reps campaigning hard to reinforce the messages to members to follow the Safe System of Work and the ‘AVOID’ principles at all times:
‘AVOID’ and Stay Safe
- Avoid interacting with any dogs. Over 80% of dog attacks happen at a customer’s door
or in their garden so take no risks. Don’t enter a premises if dogs are running lose and never put your fingers through a letterbox.
- Never accept a dog owner’s assurances – always ask owners to restrain their dogs
and step away.
- Value yourself – it could happen to you – don’t think it can’t!
- Observe – check your Walk Log and mark your frame with yellow dots.
- Inform – report all new dogs to your manager. Report all incidents involving dogs no
matter how minor.
- Defend – use your delivery equipment (pouch or trolley) to form a barrier and defend
yourself if necessary.
Dog Awareness Week SHE WTLLs/Huddles
See attached three SHE WTLLs/Huddles which will be briefed to the workforce during Dog Awareness Week. These are:
- SHE Huddle FY22 039 – For the Delivery and Collection Workforce with five daily messages (Fingers through the letterbox, At the doorstep, In the garden, On the street and Reporting Dog hazards).
- SHE Huddle FY22 039b – For the Processing and Distribution Workforce asking these members to support the campaign aims and assist with awareness raising and communicating the key campaign messages to customers.
- SHE Huddle FY22 039c – For the Parcelforce Delivery and Collection Workforce with five daily Messages (Fingers through the letterbox, At the doorstep, In the garden, On the street and Reporting Dog hazards).
During Dog Awareness Week, 7 different campaign slides will be shown across the UK in every unit. Copies are attached.
Two Dog Awareness Week campaign posters have been produced. One for internal use for display in units, focusing on the ‘Dog Bite Through the Letterbox’ – strongly promoting the message “Never Put Your Fingers Through The Letterbox” with some hard hitting images and statistics.
The external poster with a combination of customer advice and warning messages: – Firstly, “Please Help Prevent Dog Attacks on RM Staff.” Secondly, “What Could Happen To The Postie.” Thirdly, “What Could Happen To The Customer” – delivery suspension, prosecution, dog destroyed.
Dog Awareness Week Postmark
To support the Dog Awareness Week campaign, Royal Mail will again this year be franking all mail with a special ‘Dog Awareness Week’ postmark.
Dog Behind The Letter Box Warning Card
See attached copy of the ‘Dog Behind the Letterbox’ Warning Card which has several uses; firstly, to place in prep sorting frame slots to warn delivery staff of addresses with dogs, secondly, to put with bundles due to be delivered where dog hazards reside and thirdly, as handouts to warn, remind and raise awareness of delivery members of the message “DON’T PUT YOUR FINGERS THROUGH THE LETTERBOX”. A copy is attached.
Dog Awareness Week Support Video by Dr Carri Westgarth Liverpool University Dog Expert:
Dr. Carri Westgarth BSc MPH PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Liverpool and is an expert in the field of ‘contact between dogs and people’. She is the author of the book ‘The Happy Dog Owner’ (2021). Dr. Westgarth is a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors and teaches dog training classes. Dr. Westgarth is also a member of the ‘Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership’ and works with Merseyside Police, local authorities and the CWU and Unite/CMA across Merseyside and Cheshire. Watch a short video by Dr. Westgarth talking about Royal Mail Group/CWU Dog Awareness Week and supporting the messages we are communicating to dog owning customers:
Volunteers Wanted To Engage The Local Community And Schools
The SHE Huddles/Briefings will also appeal for volunteers who are prepared to engage with their local community. There is a Schools Presentation which is available to access and use. It can be used in local primary schools to raise awareness of responsible dog ownership and what our customers can do to help protect Royal Mail and Parcelforce workers. This is something CWU Reps may consider taking up. There is a link in the Huddle documents.
Dog Awareness Week Resources
- SHE Huddles x 3
- Plasma Screen Slides – Screen Shots x 7
- Posters x 2 (One Internal use and One External use)
- Dog Behind The Letter Box Warning Card
Dog Awareness Week Campaign Messages Summary:The Message for Customers is:
- Help us prevent dog attacks on postal workers.
- Be considerate and a responsible
dog owner and work with Royal Mail
and your local postman or
- Postal workers have been heroes
during the pandemic – keeping the
postal service going and keeping the
- Put the dog in another secure room
before opening the door to collect
the mail and parcels. Never open the door with the dog behind you or running lose in the house as you can’t see what it’s going to do and you may not be able to react quick enough.
- Occupy the dog with food or a toy whilst the mail is being delivered.
- Don’t let children open the door, the
dog can push past them and attack
the postman with the child having
little chance of controlling the dog.
- Don’t let the dog roam free in the
garden when the mail is being
delivered – if you must do this then
fit a postbox on the perimeter gate
- If your dog attacks or snatches the
mail when it comes through the door
fit a letterbox cage to protect the
postman’s fingers and protect your
- Finally – ensure your dog is
microchipped and wears a collar and
tag – it’s a legal requirement and
you can be fined up to £5000 if you
The Message to Delivery Staff is:
- Follow ‘AVOID’.
- Take no risks – zero tolerance
is the policy of Royal Mail and the
CWU and we will pursue the
prosecution of any owner who’s dog
attacks and injures a postal worker.
- The Dog population has increased to
13 million during the pandemic and
many of the dogs are with new
owners and haven’t been socialised
and could pose a risk – we don’t yet
know where they all are.
- Never assume a dog won’t bite.
- Never take the word of an owner
that the dog won’t bite either.
- Step back when delivering a parcel
- At the Delivery Office make sure
that all dog hazards are on the Walk
Risk Assessment Platform (WRAP)/Offsite Risk Assessment(ORA)
and that the Walk Log is up to date
and check it!
- Mark the preparation sorting frame
with yellow dots indicating the
addresses where there are dogs.
- Mark the mail with a ‘D’ to remind
you of addresses with dogs that
could be a problem whilst you are on
the delivery round.
(*IMPORTANT: All Dog Attacks Must Be Reported to the Manager, Police and Royal
Mail Security Helpdesk – This is the only way to stop future dog attacks happening).
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer