The public has been complaining for a long time about people keeping dangerous dogs but politicians appear to have kicked the issue into the long grass and classed it as too difficult to deal with. Perhaps the issue is not considered a vote winner.
In a recent attack by a dangerous dog on 22nd March 2012 in London., five policemen were injured. This follows a number of similar incidents reported in the press, some causing the death or maiming of children, and a case in which a member of our family was seriously injured by a dangerous dog about two years ago (see below).
We think it is time the government acted and (1) placed the burden on owners to protect people entering private property and (2) gave the police stronger powers to confiscate and put down dogs reported as dangerous.
Account of an attack by Staffordshire bull terrier cross in Scotland
A relative, who now lives in Scotland, was exercising his two elderly Gordon Setters on a common on Thursday 10th September 2009 when his male dog was attacked by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross.
The Staffie' charged forward pulling its lady owner over and breaking free before grabbing the male Setter by the throat.
Our relative normally leaves dogs to sort themselves out but in this instance his dog was losing consciousness and he was worried it would be killed, so he tried to pull the dog off - the dog then turned on him, badly mauling him on the hand and upper thigh.
The lady eventually managed to retrieve her dog and said she would take it back down the hill to her car and have the dog destroyed.
Our relative was walking down the hill with his injured dog with his hand in the air to staunch the flow of blood when to his horror and amazement the Staffie broke free from its owner for a second time charging up the hill and clamping its jaws round the leg of the previously uninjured female Setter breaking and splintering the bone so badly the dog could not walk and eventually had to be put down.
Somehow our relative managed to carry his injured dog back to his vehicle and drive home. He arrived home covered in blood and his wife nearly fainted.
He needed stitches in his leg, and an operation on his left hand, which was badly lacerated, and fractured, to remove splinters of bone. He then had to spent three-days in hospital on an antibiotic drip. He is self-employed and could not work or drive, until his hand sufficiently healed which took about three months
The lady said that she had only had the dog for two weeks, from a rescue centre, and did not know it was dangerous. She had her dog destroyed and offered to pay our relative's veterinary fees. However when the time came to pay up she said she could not afford to pay in full. Hmm.
It turns out that this lady and her husband both go out to work leaving their dogs alone all day and their neighbours with small children had been concerned about the dog.
Hopefully some lessons can be learnt from this sad affair so the incidence of such attacks is reduced. It is difficult to know what to do, but here are some thoughts.
Make sure your household insurance covers liability for your pets running out of control and causing injury or damage. If not, either change your policy or take out separate insurance. Note that under the Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 you are responsible for injury or damage, irrespective of whether or not you knew your dog was dangerous.
Further, under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, which is under review, it is a criminal offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment not to have a dog under proper control.
Currently a lot of Staffie cross and pit bull type dogs are passing through rescue centres. In the Midlands, the criminal fraternity are using such dogs for dog fighting, and muggers are training them to be aggressive to frighten would be victims. How do you know your dog is not one of these? You should not be passing these dogs on if you do not know their history, or the dogs show aggression, or the re-homers are out at work all day.
Owners of attacked dogs
Your dog is a member of the family, but you should think twice about intervening in a fight as you might well get bitten, and could suffer serious injuries.
Ask the owner (if there is one) of the attacking dog to risk his/her fingers and sort the matter out.
There is not much you can do unless you are carrying a stout stick and can give the attacking dog a hefty wallop.
Dogs have a thick skull and a tap on the head could make them angry and then attack you.
If the attack is very serious a heavy blow with a stick on the back of the neck just below the skull might be enough to stun the dog - but bear in mind the owner could get cross if you kill their dog!
Be aware if the dog has its jaws round you, your child or your partner - pulling off the dog could cause more extensive laceration.
If you have better advice, please feel free to get in touch so we can pass it on - in the last two years nobody has!
If you think more action should be taken to control dangerous dogs please
lobby your MP.
Last updated 13th April 2012