Royal Mail stops delivering post to flats after dog attacks postie in Shropshire
Mail deliveries have been suspended at flats where a dog repeatedly scared a postwoman and bit her boot, a court heard.
Jeanette Timms, who owns the 16-year-old brown Collie cross, appeared at Telford Magistrates Court and pleaded guilty to a charge that the animal was dangerously out of control.
Ms Abigail Hall, prosecuting, said there had been a number of incidents between postwoman Kathryn Challinor and the dog, Millie. Timms lives with the dog in a flat at Warren Court, in Shropshire Street, Market Drayton.
Ms Hall told the court that the incidents had resulted in Royal Mail suspending deliveries to Warren Court. The court heard on Friday that in August last year, Ms Challinor heard the dog barking and it ran towards her. Ms Hall said it was "barking, growling, snarling and showing its teeth".
She said: "The dog launched at her. She put up her leg to protect herself. The dog bit her work boot." Ms Hall said the postwoman was not injured.
She said Ms Challinor saw the dog on the loose near Warren Court in September and was fearful of being bitten again.
Ms Hall said: "On that occasion it resulted in her abandoning her round." In October last year, the door of Timms' flat was open when the postwoman got there. Ms Hall said the Ms Challinor heard the dog barking before it ran towards her. She jumped in a bush to try to avoid the animal, which was called back inside.
Ms Hall said Ms Challinor was left shaken by the incident.
Timms, 32, told police she had never had any problems with the dog before and that she had put up a safety gate.
Ms Lisa Morris-Jones, representing Timms, said Millie had been a family pet for 16 years and it was only when her health started to deteriorate last summer that she began to act out of character. She said Timms had apologised to the postwoman. She told magistrates that the decision by Royal Mail to suspend deliveries to Warren Court had led to negative relationships between Timms and her neighbours.
Ms Morris-Jones said: "This has caused a lot of ill feeling towards my client."
Magistrates granted a contingent destruction order, meaning the dog will not be destroyed if it is muzzled and kept on a lead in public.
Timms was also ordered to pay a £40 fine, £50 compensation, £135 costs and £30 victim surcharge.
Dog attacks a risk posties face daily
It's a danger postmen face every day on their rounds as they deliver the mail to people's homes.
According to the latest Royal Mail figures, seven postmen and women are attacked by dogs every day in the UK.
But dog attacks in the TF postcode area – which covers Market Drayton, Telford, Broseley, Much Wenlock, Newport and Shifnal – are actually on the decrease, according to the latest figures.
There were seven dog attacks in the area between April 2015 and April last year – down from the 24 attacks reported in the same period for the postcode area in 2012/13.
In the SY postcode area, which covers most of the remainder of Shropshire and parts of Mid Wales, 18 postmen and women were attacked during the same period – down 38 per cent on the previous year.
Royal Mail bosses said the number of dog attacks on postal workers nationally in 2015/16 was 2,660 – a 10 per cent reduction on the 12-month period before it.
Geoff Braden, operations director for Royal Mail, said: "We know that the overwhelming majority of dogs are friendly most of the time.
"However, even the most placid animal will defend itself if it feels its territory is being threatened.
"Our first priority as an employer is to ensure the welfare and safety of our people who provide a valuable service to our customers."
He added: "Our postmen and women deliver to over 29 million addresses across the country.
"We ask them to exercise caution and respect for all family members, including pets when delivering the mail.
"This summer, we are also appealing to dog owners and their families across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to help reduce the numbers of attacks, particularly at the door and in the garden."
Research released as part of Royal Mail's Dog Awareness Week last year found that over a quarter (27 per cent) of UK parents who own a dog confessed that their canine has been loose in the house when an exterior door (such as the front door) was open. In the past year, 36 per cent of dog attacks on postal workers have happened at the front door while 35 per cent took place in the front garden – the equivalent to 1,888 attacks.
At these times, dogs are more likely to be unsupervised in the garden.
Mr Braden said dog owners could follow a few simple tips to reduce the chances of an attack on a postal worker.
He said: "Even the most lovable dog can be a danger to postal staff.
"Dogs are territorial by nature and if they feel they need to protect their family, they can become unpredictable.
"Ensure your dog is out of the way before the postman or woman arrives. Place your pet in the back garden or a faraway room.
"If you have a back garden, please close off the access, in case your dog can get round to the front when the postman calls.
"Dog attacks can happen when you've opened the door to sign for an item.
"Please keep your dog in another room before answering the door and make sure children don't open the door as dogs can push past them and attack.
"Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered.
"If your dog likes to attack your mail consider installing a wire letter receptacle.
"It will protect your post and your postman's fingers.
"If it's not practical for you to keep your dog away from a postman delivering your mail, please consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property."
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