A postman dog bite sounds like a funny occupational hazard but running for his life down a garden path, being chased by an angry dog may be an amusing cartoon scenario, but UK postal workers probably wouldn’t find it funny.
New figures show that over 3000 postmen and women are attacked by dogs each year, some suffering permanent injuries. That’s an increase of 8%. It seems that man’s best friend is not always, well, man’s best friend!
I and my team at Neil Hudgell Solicitors, often have to deal with claims from physical injuries and trauma that have been caused as a direct result of poorly supervised or dangerous dogs.
My experience is that, in the vast majority of cases, responsibility for these types of injury lies firmly at the door of the dog owner.
Without a sustained public campaign to educate dog owners to be more aware of their responsibilities, the number of claims I deal with – and all the associated trauma – will continue to rise.
A Postman Dog Bite
Postal worker Lena Gane is still seriously affected by an attack two years ago in Bristol. Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Lena said: ‘I was out on delivery, I handed a packet to the owner, I walked away and the dog escaped and he attacked me, grabbing hold of my left wrist. He punctured the tendons and bit into the bone. I needed emergency surgery. I was five weeks off work, and I’m still feeling quite traumatic.’
The dog owner’s reaction didn’t help the situation. Lena added: ‘It was quite shocking because the owners insisted it was on private land and there would be no repercussions for it, which was quite upsetting and disturbing at the time.’
Editor of dog owners’ magazine K9, Ryan O’Meara, has a completely different and commendably responsible attitude. He has stopped having his post delivered to his home because he understands his dog could frighten people.
Ryan told Good Morning Britain: ‘If you work in kennels, getting bitten by dogs is an occupational hazard. A postman dog bite is not an occupational hazard if you are trying to deliver somebody’s mail. So it’s down to dog owners to put a barrier in place to stop that happening. The most blameless in this situation is the dog. It’s always down to the owner to take responsibility for what their dog does.’
And that’s the legal point that underpins most of these cases.