A CAMPAIGN to increase public awareness of dog attacks on postmen and women starts today, with new figures revealing 23 postal staff were attacked across Bradford in the space of a year.

Dog Awareness Week, which runs until Friday, aims to encourage responsible dog ownership and appeal to owners to keep their animals under control when postal staff make deliveries.

The annual week, run by Royal Mail with support from the Communications Workers Union (CWU), purposefully coincides with the approaching summer holidays when children are more likely to be looking after pets and may be less able to control them.

An average of nine postmen and women a day are attacked by dogs across the UK, with more than 3,300 attacks taking place from April 2013 to April 2014 - an eight per cent increase on the previous year.

In Bradford, the figure actually dropped by 15 per cent from 2012/13, and Northern operations director Rob Jenson said Royal Mail was committed to working with customers to continue to drive the number down.

"There is a growing awareness of the issue of dog attacks and the problems our postmen and women face when they are delivering the mail," he said.

"However, last year there were still too many incidents in the BD postcode area as even one dog attack on our people is one too many," he said.

"We are appealing to dog owners in the BD postcode area to keep their pets under control, especially if they know their pets have a territorial nature."

Of the 23 attacks, ten took place at addresses in Bradford South, seven in Keighley, three in Cleckheaton, two in Bradford North, and one in the Aire Valley.

One of the most recent attacks in Bradford involved postman Andrew Leckenby, who was bitten on the thigh by a dalmatian in a garden in Birkenshaw in November 2012.

At the time, he backed calls for tougher legislation on irresponsible owners, and under changes made to the Dangerous Dogs Act in May, postmen and women now have legal protection over attacks by dogs on private property, with jail terms of up to five years if a dog causes injury, or 14 years for a fatal attack.

Dog Awareness Week has been organised in conjunction with the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

CWU area safety rep Mick Gledhill urged people to be responsible. he said the week would include postal staff meeting with managers and the handing out of posting pegs which could be used to deliver post to avoid postal staff putting their fingers through letter boxes.

Mr Gledhill said posties had suffered horrific injuries and often people inadvertently let their dogs out in a rush to answer the door.

"The message to the public for Dog Awareness Week, and all of the time, is to be concious that there are people entering your premises with legitimate purposes to deliver services to you and think of their safety and keep your dog restrained," he said.