DOGS are generally regarded as man’s best friend – but there’s rarely love lost between protective pooches and the local postie.
Now an animal charity reckons it can heal damaged relations between the two – by installing letterboxes in its training facilities.
Royal Mail bosses say 20 postmen were attacked delivering the Lothians’ letters last year, prompting the Dogs Trust to take action.
Attacks on posties rise during the school holidays and in the summer months when parents and children are at home and dogs are allowed out unsupervised in the garden without restraints.
Welfare workers in West Calder are now stepping up their training of rescue dogs in a bid to address the underlying fear that can be a trigger for aggression towards visitors.
Susan Tonner, manager of Dogs Trust West Calder, said: “We have always ensured that our dogs are as acclimatised as they can be to real-life situations that they will come across when they leave our kennels.
“Introducing letterboxes to all of the rehoming centres with training facilities is an obvious next step in providing a ‘first class’ service.”
The Royal Mail – which is running its Dog Awareness Week – is also appealing to owners to keep their animals under control to prevent more attacks. Steve Greaves, the postal service’s director of safety for Scotland, said: “For the first time, we are holding a Dog Awareness Week to raise awareness of the problems our postmen and women face daily when they are delivering the mail.
“Last year the number of dog attacks on our people fell. However, there were still 20 incidents in the area. We need to reduce this number further as even one dog attack on our people is one dog attack too many.
“Clearly most dogs are not inherently dangerous, however even the most placid animal can be prone to attack if it feels its territory is being threatened.
“We appeal to owners to keep their pets under control, especially if they know their pets have a territorial nature and use the advice for dog owners that Dogs Trust has provided to try and help reduce the number of attacks further.”
Dogs Trust said it was also keen to see tougher punishments for those who allow their dogs to act dangerously.
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust CEO, said: “Owners have to be held accountable for having a dangerously out of control dog in any place – including their home. We hope the extension will result in more people taking responsibility for their dogs’ behaviour, with penalties for those who don’t.
“Irresponsible dog owners need to be punished rather than the dogs. The time is right for the government to now look at the preventative measures that are urgently required to stop dog attacks from happening in the first place. Dogs Trust will continue to lobby the government and engage MPs on this issue until we finally have effective, preventative dangerous dogs legislation to successfully update the draconian Dangerous Dogs Act.”