The struggle between postmen and their old enemy, the dog, has been raging since stamp was first applied to envelope. The postmen attempt to deliver mail to our homes, and our dogs try to thwart them in their duties whenever they can. It’s a classic struggle, and one that the dog has, until now, been winning.
All that could be about to change however as the postmen have a new weapon to help them fight their war with the dogs. Postmen working for the Royal Mail now have the anti-dog air gun, which isn’t as frightening as it sounds. The weapon uses air to make a hissing sound, which is supposed to frighten away the canine variety.
This new weapon is being taken up by postmen following reports that attacks on postmen rose by 20% in 2009. Last year saw 4,810 attacks by dogs on postmen, which works out at around 92 attacks per week. The preceding year saw just 4,067.
The Royal Mail has even issued its postmen with a set of rules on dealing with dogs, a sort of ‘do not engage’ mandate if you will. The rules and regulations read:
Never enter premises where a dog is loose. Even the most friendly dog is likely to view your approach as a possible threat.
Postmen are also advised to use their postbag as a defensive shield against any dog’s attack, to not run away and to not stare down an attacking or posturing dog.
Before the new air weapon was deployed, some postmen carried peppermint spray (not pepper spray) to spray in the direction of any attacking dogs, although critics (bitten postmen) claimed that it was hard to use when under attack.
When describing the new weapon, a spokesman for the Royal Mail added:
The device releases air at speed, creating a hissing noise which is designed to pull the dog up and stop its progress.
This is something we take extremely seriously, and we give training to staff about ways to deal with dogs.
The new weapon is currently being trialled in the south east, and if it proves effective against dogs it will be rolled out across the country.
If it is successful, maybe we’ll see Postman Pat use it on the next season of the BBC children’s program.