Postal workers are risking their lives delivering letters to homes with aggressive dogs, according to Royal Mail.
The organisation warns there have been 2,484 dog attacks on employees in the past year, an increase of nine percent, with some having lost fingers.
Spokesman Dr Shaun Davis told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham that any dog is capable of snapping.
“In the last 12 months I've dealt with fingers and thumbs bitten off, bitten calfs and thighs, buttocks and forearms,” he said.
“It’s serious and has a mental-health dimension as well as a physical health-dimension.
“Home owners should consider fitting an external post box or cage to the back of the door to catch the mail and stop the dog becoming excited by the letterbox."
It comes as Royal Mail launches its seventh successive Dog Awareness Week with an appeal to dog owners to ensure they understand the impact of dog attacks on postmen and women.
Postwoman Tina O’Toole required a skin graft after being bitten.
“I turned to leave the premises when I heard the dog barking and running up behind me. As I was attempting to get through the gate I felt pain to my right calf,” she said.
“I then went into shock and looked down at my leg to see the blood seeping through my trousers. Neighbours called the ambulance and I was rushed to hospital.”
Her injuries required hospital treatment, a skin flap and possibly physiotherapy in the future.
Communication Workers Union spokesman Dave Joyce said some attacks “could easily have ended in fatalities”.
“Put the dog away in a secure room before opening the door to collect and sign for deliveries,” he said.
Tips for dog owners
- Give your dog some food or a toy to occupy them while your mail is being delivered
- Wait 10 minutes after your mail has arrived before letting your dog back into your hallway. Keep everything as calm and low-key as possible
- If your dog likes to attack your letters, consider installing a wire cage on the door to protect your post and your postman’s fingers
- If it is not practical to keep your dog away consider fitting a secure mailbox on the edge of your property