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Prime Minister Called To Act On Dangerous Dogs As Attacks On Children Continue

Following reports of three serious dog attacks on children in the last few weeks, leading pet charity Blue Cross today joined calls for the Prime Minister to take action on dangerous dogs.

In separate incidents, a 12-year-old girl was attacked by a Staffordshire bull terrier in Gloucestershire on Sunday (8th April), while five-year-olds Haley Turner and Abbie Varrow were both left scarred for life after being bitten by a Jack Russell terrier in West Yorkshire last Thursday (5th April) and a German Shepherd dog in Essex on Tuesday 27th March.

Blue Cross has now joined forces with the parents of John Paul Massey, the four-year-old who was mauled to death in Liverpool by his uncle’s pit bull terrier in 2009, who are today handing in an open letter to 10 Downing Street to demand the Prime Minister takes action on dangerous dogs.

It is now over twenty years since the Dangerous Dogs Act came into force, and it is still failing to prevent attacks on the public. The previous administration began a consultation on tougher laws in March 2010, which ended in June of that year. Twenty two months later and there is still no clear direction by this Government and a long anticipated announcement has so far failed to materialise.

Steve Goody, director of external affairs at Blue Cross, said, “With increasing numbers of dog attacks being reported and an absence of any announcement of the Government’s intentions, it is high time that the Prime Minister takes control of the situation.

“The current Dangerous Dogs Act is totally inadequate. How many more children must be attacked before new proposals are unveiled? We need new legislation with tougher measures covering out-of-control dogs wherever they are and whatever the breed – allowing authorities to step in before attacks happen.”

The Dangerous Dogs Act came into force in 1991, banning four breeds – the pit bull terrier, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro – although the only one commonly seen in the UK is the pit bull. Regardless of their behaviour, any dog suspected of being one of these illegal types can be seized, detained and ultimately destroyed.

Blue Cross wants to see a new law in which no breeds are banned and instead makes the owner responsible for the behaviour of any dog, with powers for authorities to intervene at an earlier stage if they are using a dog in an irresponsible way or allowing it to become out of control – before a damaging attack takes place.

The charity would like to see dog control notices introduced which can order an owner to take preventative measures such as keeping their dogs on leads in public, muzzling their pet, undergoing dog training and, where appropriate, penalties if their dog is out of control. Blue Cross would also like to see the law extended to cover attacks on private property.

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