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Friday, 28 November 2014

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South Cumbria dog attack victim welcomes change in law

A CUMBRIA postman who has been a victim of dog attacks more than a dozen times during his career has praised a change in the law that will hold irresponsible pet owners to account.

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Postman Mark Butterworth. LINDSEY DICKINGS REF: 50051440B004

Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in England and Wales yesterday.

Under the new rules, the prison sentence for an owner who allows a dog to fatally attack someone has been increased from two years to 14. Owners will also now face prosecution if their dog attacks a person on private property.

This will provide postmen and women with legal protection for the first time as previous rules did not extend “beyond the garden gate”.

Mark Butterworth has worked for the Royal Mail since January 2003. In that time he estimates he has been attacked 20 times.

In July he required hospital treatment for cuts on his wrist and ankle after being bitten by a terrier while on his round in Grange.

Talking about the changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act, Mr Butterworth, 57, of Cark, said: “It’s difficult when they are on their own property. I have a dog and I’d like to think it could roam around freely on my property. But if it is a dangerous dog, one that is likely to attack someone, then there should be some guidelines in place.”

Shaun Davis, group director of safety at Royal Mail, said: “Royal Mail has campaigned for changes to this important legislation and it will now ensure our postmen and women will be protected when they enter private property, including a customer’s garden.

“We are only too aware of the life changing physical and psychological injuries that can be sustained from dog attacks. Nobody should have to endure this and our postmen and women should not be at increased risk of such attacks simply because of the job they do.”

Mr Butterworth said the majority of dog owners are responsible but hopes the new legislation forces some owners to take extra precautions to avoid falling foul of the law.

He said: “They should just put a box on their gate at the end of the drive because that’s going to cost them a lot less than if their dog bites a postman.”

Between April 2012 and April 2013, more than 2,400 postmen and women in the UK were attacked by dogs.

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