Dog attacks Know your rights


Postal mail and parcel delivery workers are increasingly getting attacked and bitten by aggressive dogs – on and off owners’ premises. The Communication Workers Union has long been campaigning for a comprehensive dog registration scheme so, following an attack, the responsible owner can easily be identified and held accountable.

The Health and Safety and Environmental Department at the Communication Workers Union launched the CWU “Bite-Back” Campaign following an attack on a member which left him with significant injuries. The CWU is calling for:

  • The better protection from dangerous, aggressive, out of control dogs for Postal Workers delivering the mail
  • Government action on modernising and strengthening the law on dangerous and unruly dogs

We would welcome a similar bill to the proposed Control of dogs (Scotland) Bill to protect all individuals from dog attacks which are on the increase. Measures need to be introduced so that irresponsible dog owners can be called to book.

What can you do if a dog bites you?

The owner or person in charge of a dog which is dangerously out of control in a public place can, pursuant to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, be found guilty of an offence and faces a fine, prison, or being disqualified from keeping a dog.

Any person can make a complaint to a magistrates’ court, or report a dog to the police if it is dangerous, pursuant to the Dogs Act 1971. A court can make control orders, or even order that the dog be destroyed. The advantage of this Act is that it applies around a private dwelling, for example if a neighbour’s dog is a nuisance, or causes fear or risk of injury to any person including, for example, postmen making delivery to private property.

If an individual wishes to pursue a claim for personal injury or damage then he has to establish that the keeper of an animal knows that it was likely to cause such damage or injury if it was unrestrained, pursuant to the Animals Act 1971. The laws can apply individually or in combination to act as a positive encouragement to owners to exercise safe control over their dog.

There are a number of councils that already operate voluntary schemes for dogs to be registered and chipped, for example Bradford Council. People on low income can have their dogs chipped/neutered at a discount or for free to encourage owners of all dogs to enter into this scheme.

Postal Workers and Parcel Delivery Workers

Employers have an obligation to comply with Health and Safety law to reduce risks and prevent injury to employees. People on deliveries and collections should be aware that they are under no obligation to deliver to or collect from premises where they feel threatened by a dog.

Every attack or incident of menacing must be reported to a manager. All reported incidents with be investigated by the manager who will involve the local council dog warden.

All such incidents must be entered on a local 'hazard log' and in the Dog Attack Incident Sheet or the equivalent.

Managers must undertake risk assessments to identify dog hazards taking account of dense dog populations and past dog incidents, and prepare action plans to minimise the risk.

Managers may consider suspending deliveries or collections. For guidance see Health and Safety Exceptions (USO) (

Where someone is off work on sick leave for 7 days or more as a result of a dog attack, the victim must be advised of the Royal Mail Dog Attacks Compensation Scheme.

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