Big Issue seller Dan almost lost his hand through a dog attack

STILL SCARRED: Dan Cornell still bears scars from a dog attack but is devoted to his pet, Punky. SG130813-126NG
STILL SCARRED: Dan Cornell still bears scars from a dog attack but is devoted to his pet, Punky. SG130813-126NG

Changes in the law are on the cards that will bite back at dog owners when their pets attack and injure people.

Dog owners now escape prosecution if attacks happen in their home or inside their garden gate – but the Government plans to change that so owners can be taken to court.

The news has been welcomed by Royal Mail and the Communications Workers’ Union as postmen and women are bearing the brunt of dog attacks while doing their job.

One South Holland postal worker is on long-term sick leave after an attack left her badly injured.

Royal Mail say there were 51 dog attacks on postal workers in the last year alone in the PE postcode area and 387 similar attacks in the last five years.

Lincolnshire’s hospitals treated 666 people for dog bites in the year to June and 79 people were admitted for surgery.

The year to June 2012 saw 874 people treated for dog bites and 74 admitted for surgery.

A spokesman for Royal mail said: “Royal Mail welcomes the Government’s commitment to amend the previous legislation to ensure our postmen and women will be protected when they enter private property including a customer’s garden.”

Richard Line, area safety representative for the Communications Workers’ Union, said attacks on postmen and women peak in the summer when children are off school and may open the door without first making sure the dog can’t get out.

Dog bites don’t always come from dogs that are overtly dangerous – they may simply be protecting their family and territory.

He said: “You have got the standing joke of the postmen being bitten by the dog all of the time, but I think there has been a marked increase over the last four or five years of serious cases.”

Mr Line said he dealt with a case in which a postmen nearly had his arm ripped off and someone had to drive a van at the dog to stop the attack.

Sixteen people have been killed in the UK since 2005 by dogs and the Government is considering a new sentence for owners ranging from seven years to life imprisonment.

The RSPCA says tougher sentencing may deter some owners, but more needs to be done to prevent attacks by encouraging owners to be more responsible through “genuine intervention and preventative measures”.