British animal welfare group the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has appointed a dedicated specialist to research the problem of dog attacks on mail carriers.
The RSPCA said the appointment had been made thanks to a GBP 20,000 donation from one of the UK’s largest mail auditing companies, Buckinghamshire-based Postal Audits.
Scientific officer Jenna Kiddie has already started work with dogs in RSPCA centres around the country, looking at aggression and other behavioural problems.
The aim is to produce advice for anyone coming into contact with dogs on a daily basis, including mail carriers and other home delivery staff.
Royal Mail has said its staff suffer as many as 4,000 dog attacks each year during their home visits, with unions suggesting the figure could be closer to 6,000 a year.
Last week Royal Mail launched a full independent inquiry into the issue.
The RSPCA said much of the problem was down to irresponsible dog ownership.
“It’s heart-breaking to have to deal with the fall-out of poor dog ownership and this donation will help us make a real difference to tacking this problem,” said the head of the RSPCA’s companion animal department, James Yeates.
“We know that dogs can show aggression because they feel threatened or have had negative experiences in the past, so we hope that this vital research will help protect both animals and humans in the future.”
Postal Audits, which provides mail auditing, measurement and postal consultancy services, said dogs had killed eight people and severely injured more than 200 in the UK in the last few years.
Derek Fairhurst, managing director of Postal Audits, said: “What we see in our line of work is the staggering number of postal workers who are injured – around 6,000 a year. That is why we have funded this work with the RSPCA to try to tackle the problem head on.”