Sharp Rise In Attacks

Prompts calls for a review of the Dangerous Dogs Act

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Dangerous Dogs Act (published 1991)

A review of the Dangerous Dogs Act has been called for following a sharp rise in the number of people needing hospital treatment after being attacked by dogs.

According to NHS figures there has been a 40% rise across the country of people being admitted to hospital for emergency medical attention over the past five years. However, it is dogs being used as gang status symbols and to intimidate people in the street that is believed to be the primary reason behind the staggering 120% rise in the number of young people in London that have been attacked.

The figures have prompted a number of calls for a review including one from the Lib Dems who said the rise was "enormously disturbing". "There is a worrying trend in some areas of using dangerous dogs as fashion accessories or, worse still, as weapons," said Lib Dem health spokesman, Norman Lamb."Dogs often only become violent as a result of mistreatment by owners or because of a failure to train them properly."

Under the Dangerous Dogs Act four types of dogs are banned - the pit bull terrier, japanese tosa, dogo argentino and fila brasileiro. It also lays the legal blame for attacks on owners or those in charge of dogs. Metropolitan Police figures for 2007 revealed 943 reports of dogs being out of control.

Mark Callis, a dog warden and spokesman for the People with Dogs project, said, "It's a common sight to see kids hanging out on street corners with dogs and their behaviour can be very intimidating."

A belief echoed by Mayor Ken Livingstone who is backing a campaign to deal with this issue. He said “I am committed to making London a safer place for everyone, and this includes tackling the problem of anti-social behaviour with dogs. The scheme launched today has my full support as it aims to strike at the heart of the problem, teaching and educating young Londoners how to behave responsibly with their pets.”


March 7, 2008