Ann Coffey


Owners of aggressive dogs should fit letter box guards

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Ann Coffey MP is calling on the Government to bring in new measures to prevent dogs biting people through letter boxes.

Ms Coffey wants dog owners – who think there is a chance that their dog could bite someone, either with malicious or playful intent – to be required to fit a simple wire letter box guard to stop injuries.

If they fail to comply with the requirement and their dog bites someone, then they would be liable to a civil penalty for any harm caused.

Ms Coffey will put forward the proposal as an amendment to the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill today (Tuesday October 15). She will be supported by Greater Manchester MPs, Graham Stringer, Andrew Gwynne and David Heyes.

Ms Coffey revealed that she had had to take a close colleague to Accident and Emergency with a serious bite wound to her hand when leafleting some years ago. Ms Coffey raised this issue as a Private members bill in the last parliament.

Ms Coffey said:

“It is not unknown for dogs to regard fingers put through letter boxes as a curiosity and fair game to fasten their teeth on. Some of these dogs are aggressive but others might simply be being playful.

“The thought of a dog hurtling itself at a letterbox might conjure up hilarious scenes from a comedy sitcom, but for the real life recipient it can be traumatic and painful. People can sustain injuries ranging from bite marks and minor bruising through to fingers or nerves being severed causing long term injury.”

“Many people push leaflets and letters through doors, including postmen and women; newspaper boys and girls; people starting up a new business or advertising pizza and other fast food services or neighbours posting Christmas and birthday cards or invites to community events.

“I am not saying that every dog owner must rush out and buy a wire guard.

“Basically, if you have a good dog then there is no need to worry but if there is a chance that your dog might jump up and bite someone through the letterbox, for whatever reason, then it is up to you to take responsibility to prevent accidents and put in a letter box guard.

“If a dog owner fails to comply and there is an incident, then the person who was bitten would be entitled to take a civil court action against them.

“This simple measure could avert many injuries and also has the added advantage of protecting householders from the hostility generated if their dog bites someone, particularly if that happens to be a child.”