It is common knowledge that postal workers and dogs tend not to be on the best of terms.
Now the full scale of the daily risk run by Royal Mail staff is to be revealed after the postal service launched an inquiry into canine attacks, many of which have resulted in serious injuries and "considerable trauma". Royal Mail said that postal workers are suffering up to 4,000 attack every year.
Announcing the independent inquiry yesterday, Royal Mail chairman Donald Brydon said: "It is an offence to decency that good people should suffer these attacks when carrying out their daily jobs and serving the public."
More than 24,000 postmen and women have been attacked by dogs on their delivery rounds since 2006, leading the Royal Mail to spend more than £100,000 on campaigns and equipment to try to reduce the risk of injury, including a device to put letters through doors to protect fingers.
Postal workers have reported being attacked in front gardens and having their fingers bitten while putting items through letterboxes. In one case the dog held on for four to five minutes, inflicting severe damage to a postman's ring finger.
Almost 400 postmen and women have taken time off sick in the past year after dog attacks, while 4,100 working days have been lost, costing Royal Mail about £400,000.
Dave Joyce, national safety officer of the Communication Workers Union, which has been campaigning for years for measures to tackle dangerous dogs, said the case for changing legislation was "overwhelming". The CWU called on the Government to strengthen the law as a matter of urgency.
It said it received an assurance from Prime Minister David Cameron almost two years ago that he backed its campaign for tougher laws against dangerous dogs, but nothing had changed.