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Caroline Spelman MP writes for the Solihull News

LAST November, I joined a Chelmsley Wood postman on his round to experience the difficulties that postmen face.

LAST November, I joined a Chelmsley Wood postman on his round to experience the difficulties that postmen face.

I saw the challenges every postman or woman faces from dangerous dogs to irregular house numbering.

At Christmas, I always try to visit a local sorting office to thank staff for the extra hard work they do, often in awful weather. We should not take them and the invaluable service they provide for granted.

It should go without saying that postmen and any other deliverers should not have to face vicious dogs when simply doing their work. And not just postmen but community health visitors, midwives and other visitors are also at risk.

Yet, over 300 postmen and women were attacked across the UK by dogs from April 2011 to April 2012 with incidents often increasing during school holidays.

Unfortunately, legal protection does not currently extend beyond the garden gate. Following an independent inquiry, the Government is now planning legal protection over dog attacks to cover those that occur on private property. There is also to be compulsory microchipping of all dogs by April 2016.

The Royal Mail is taking a more robust approach by suspending delivery to addresses where attacks occur and is pursuing legal action - and supporting staff in taking legal action - against owners of dangerous dogs.

If you own a dog, please make sure it is kept under control. If an animal requires a muzzle in a public place then it might also require one at home where it could constitute a danger to deliverers and other visitors.

I also think it makes sense to have a dog properly trained to respond to commands – sweet little puppies can quickly grow into out-of-control monsters, especially in certain breeds.

Even small terriers can inflict damage, so it is worth looking at the safety aspect of dog ownership when getting a dog or puppy in the first place.

 

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