Northern Ireland

Dog attacks on postmen 'highest in Northern Ireland'

Aggressive dog Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There were 67 attacks on postmen in Northern Ireland from April 2016 to April 2017

Northern Ireland had the highest number of dog attacks on postal workers in the UK last year, according to Royal Mail.

There were 67 attacks on postmen in Northern Ireland from April 2016 to April 2017.

That was a rise of 20% on the previous year, whereas throughout the UK the number of attacks dropped by 7%.

Over the last five years, there have been 329 attacks on postmen in Northern Ireland and 14,500 across the UK.

Gary, a postman for 16 years, was bitten by a German shepherd

"I was just going into the driveway - the dog's normally locked up to be fair, but for some reason it was in the driveway.

"I backed off and it just attacked me and the first thing it did was grab my leg and shake it - it shook me as if it was a shark or crocodile.

"Even to this day it's still painful.

"I didn't really think much about the attack at the time, but a couple of weeks later I just took a panic attack over it, that's when the trauma really kicked in and I needed counselling after that.

"Since this happened to me I've been wary about going into houses with dogs because of it. It shouldn't be part and parcel of the job, getting attacked.

"Owners have to take responsibility."

In the last year, 71% of dog attacks on postal workers have happened at the front door or in the front garden.

'Life-changing injuries'

The number of attacks rises during the school holidays and in the summer months when parents and children are at home, says Royal Mail.

Royal Mail says that at these times, dogs are more likely to be unsupervised or not kept under control when the postman or woman knocks on the door.

Paul Sweeney, Royal Mail's general manager Northern Ireland, said some of the attacks have caused life-changing injuries.

"Our postmen and women need to be able to deliver the service they provide to communities across the UK, without the risk of injury," her said.

"This is why this campaign is so important. We need to keep raising awareness of this serious issue and ask all dog owners to keep their pets under control and be a responsible dog owner."

Royal Mail's fifth annual Dog Awareness Week runs from 3 to 8 July 2017 in Northern Ireland.

The week aims to raise awareness of the issue of dog attacks on postmen and women and encourage responsible dog ownership.

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