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Airedale terrier golf club cover

That happened many years ago and it certainly hasn’t prejudiced me against dogs, particularly lovely labradors. However, a recent report points out that thousands of postmen, police offi cers, council staff and other workers are attacked by dogs on private property every year. Under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act it is illegal for any breed of dog to be out of control in a public place but the Act does not cover the private property of the dogs’ owners.

In 2008/9 there were 4,810 dog attacks on Royal Mail staff alone yet if those attacks take place on private property there is no right to legal redress or compensation. In 2008 Keith Davies, a postman, almost lost an arm when he was attacked by two rottweilers yet criminal charges against the owner had to be dropped because Keith was attacked on a private road.

Sian Jones, of the Communication Workers’ Union, which represents postal workers says: “Dog attacks are a huge hazard for our members.

People have had fi ngers bitten off, others have been injured so badly they haven’t been able to return to work and it has destroyed their lives. Yet the law ends at the garden gate. As soon as you step on to private property you aren’t protected.”

Sickeningly repugnant are the so called “weapon dogs”, animals that are bred and trained to be aggressive and are paraded as status symbols by their equally aggressive, swaggering, hooligan owners.

HOWEVER, the Government is being lobbied by 20 animal charities, including the RSPCA, the Dogs Trust, the Police Federation, several unions and, signifi cantly, The Kennel Club, the country’s largest organisation for dog owners. All of them are demanding tougher laws on dangerous dogs.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will give its response soon. If it agrees with changes already proposed by the previous government, irresponsible dog owners could face prosecution and be forced to pay compensation to anyone bitten.

In theory that sounds fi ne but such owners will plead poverty so unless the Government is prepared to put them in jail, which it won’t, its threats will be ignored. Meanwhile responsible owners may have to take out third-party liability insurance for their dogs. I hope the government will draft sensible legislation promising tougher action against the owners of dangerous dogs but it must also fi nd ways to ease the worries of responsible owners, particularly the elderly, for whom their dogs provide comfort, companionship and, in some cases, protection.