AN Oxfordshire postman bitten seven times by dogs has backed calls for heavier punishments for people whose pets savage posties.
An inquiry led by a former High Court Judge has recommended new laws to enable Royal Mail to pursue the owners of dangerous dogs through the courts.
Currently little protection is offered to postmen and women, as they are almost always on private property when the attacks take place.
Bampton postman Stephen Godfrey, 33, who has been the victim of several attacks in his 15-year career, said it was long overdue.
He said: “Seven times I have been bitten. You hear the barking in the background and think ‘oh please, not this now’.
“Usually it’s when they open the door and it runs straight past them. I find it’s the smaller dogs rather than the larger ones – they are the worst.
“I've had nips on my legs and backside, and I’ve heard hundreds of stories from colleagues about being bitten.
“We absolutely back anything that will make owners take more notice and more precaution; 100 per cent.
“Something has needed to be done for some time to make owners think. They just don’t seem to care.”
The report by Sir Gordon Langley called on Parliament to repeal current legislation over private property attacks and provide a new statute which removes the loophole, enabling criminal sanctions to be taken against owners of dogs which attack people, wherever the attack takes place.
The legal sanctions currently available in England and Wales when dogs attack people on private property are largely limited to action against the dog, for example issuing control orders or ordering that the dog be destroyed.
According to the latest statistics, there were 51 dog attacks on Royal Mail staff in OX postcode areas between April 2011 and April 2012.
Chad Croom, secretary of the south central branch of the Communication Workers Union, said he hoped the general public would wake up to the dangers postmen and women face each day.
He said: “We have been fighting this for a great number of years and would absolutely recommend more protection and room to prosecute.”
“There is a procedure to go through and measures in place if a postie has been bitten, but there is a legal requirement to deliver mail so we cannot withhold it.
“We have to write to the owner and this simply isn't effective enough.”
Donald Brydon, chairman of the Royal Mail Group, added: “Dog attacks cause injuries and terrible trauma to our staff. Nobody should have to endure this and our staff are at an increased risk of such attacks simply because of the job they do.”
The highest number of dog bite incidents last year was in the OX7 postcode area, which covers Chipping Norton, the Wychwoods and Charlbury, with eight attacks. In contrast there was just one incident each in Witney, OX28, and Wantage, OX12. Overall, there were fewer attacks than in the previous 12 months, when postal staff reported 56 incidents in Oxfordshire.