Dog bites

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  • You’ve been busy talking about whether you think there should be tighter laws against owning a dangerous dog, after a 6-year-old girl was seriously injured by a bull terrier on Saturday 21st January 2012, in Chingford, north-east London. We also look at how you can protect your child from a dog attack by recognising the signs.

    Campaigners are calling for tighter laws on dangerous dogs after a bull terrier attacked a 6-year-old girl while she was out walking with her family, and seriously injured her neck and shoulder. The little girl also had part of her ear ripped off in the dog attack and has had plastic surgery.

    The owner blamed the family for ‘unnerving’ his pet before leaving false contact details.

    Witness Terence Lundy, 70, was walking in the forest area and saw the family of 4 running down towards him. ‘The dad said he punched the dog in the head and kept punching it until it let go – and the owner had said ‘Can’t you keep your kids under control?’.

    A 56-year old man has since been arrested on suspicion of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place and the animal has been seized.

    How can I prevent a dog attack from happening to my child?

    Dog attacks are usually the end result of bad treatment, poor training and taunting. The aggression of a dog depends on the actual dog and not the breed of dog, so it’s best to be prepared. When a dog is distressed it’s more likely to attack you, so here’s how you can protect your child from a possible dog attack by recognising the following signs and staying calm:

    • Look out for the dog backing away, yawning, licking its nose, panting with no show of the tongue and constant eye contact.
    • If the dog doesn’t calm down, the hair on the back of its neck will stand on end and it they will appear to ‘lean’ forwards towards you.
    • If you start to see the whites of a dog’s eyes, the dog is very angry.
    • A dog will bare its teeth before an attack. Past this sign, it’s unlikely the dog will calm down easily and likely the dog may attack.
    • Stay calm and don’t run. Instead, turn to the side keeping the dog in your peripheral vision to show you are no threat. If you can’t pick your child up, tell them to keep still and command the dog to ‘back away’. Taking control of the situation like this may distract the animal for long enough to protect your child.

    What should be done about dangerous dogs?

    The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 legislation has yet to be updated by the government, but the latest news has sparked campainers to call for tighter laws against dangerous dogs. We asked you on Facebook what you thought about dangerous dogs and here’s what you had to say:

    ‘Being someone who has been attacked by a dog. I would not say it was mine or the dog’s fault, nor could I blame the owner. The dog in question was once abused and badly beaten. He is a gorgeous boxer dog. I refused to press charges once I knew about the dog’s history. All I did was bend down too fast. Yes, it’s awful that the girl has been mauled but we have not been informed of all the facts. I am now very wary of dogs and make sure that my children approach dogs with caution as you never know – the dog might be as nice as pie now but if approached in the wrong way may attack if it feels threatened.’

    A mum who loves to bake

    ‘There should be tighter laws against dangerous breeds of dogs. The average person does not need one and often do not know how to handle them.

    However, people do need to take some responsibility around dogs in general. I’ve witnessed countless incidents where people have walked up to a strangers dog and patted it on the head, often catching it unaware. Now if someone did that to you as a person you would be shocked and likely to shout or push them away – do people expect dogs to be any different? ‘

    Hopefully if the owners have socialised the animal well it should not be too much of an issue but even so the dog could still be shocked by this.’

    Sarah Gee

    ‘Bring back the dog licence. Have all dogs on leads in public areas. Have ‘dog parks’ where they are free to roam and run. And I don’t get owners who say their dog is OK/it won’t bite/it’s as soft as a brush/it’s not dangerous. All this means, is that their dog hasn’t attacked anyone…yet.

    It can happen anytime without warning. It’s not like your dog is going to tell you what it’s about to do, is it?’

    Michelle Caplin-Duffy

    ‘Its not the animal’s fault – you find agressive dogs have been trained that way or are being abused by their owners. It’s not the animal’s fault at all.’

    Amber Gordon

    ‘Sadly a death penalty still exists for dogs, no one knows the character of that dog, no one knows the exact circumstances how this incident occurred only the outcome. Sadly the dog gets the harshest punishment. People have a responsibility to control their dogs but others have a responsibility to respect dogs and not just approach them without asking owners permission first!

    Perhaps there should be dog only parks or areas. I have witnessed children and adults approach and goad dogs tormenting them deliberately and then the cry when the dog snaps…

    All dogs have a potential and none of them can be totally trusted. I am sick of hearing bad press about Rottweillers especially by people who are not qualified to comment by the fact they have never owned one.’

    Francesca Duddell

    We’d love to know how you feel about dangerous dogs or the latest news? Leave your comments below or chat about dangerous dogs in our Forums or on Facebook.

    Where to next?

    Child street safety

    Your pets

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