Dog review demands dismissed

The government has rejected calls by the Liberal Democrats to review the Dangerous Dogs Act, following a rise in the number of dog-related injuries.

Lib Dem health spokesperson Norman Lamb uncovered the 43 per cent increase in people being admitted to hospitals because of dog attacks in the last four years through parliamentary questions.

He said nearly 4,000 had to attend accident and emergency departments because of violent dog attacks and warned children were needlessly being placed at risk because of the trend.

The Dangerous Dogs Act prohibits four types of dog and makes owners of out-of-control dogs which injure a person liable for an aggravated offence.

Mr Lamb said irresponsible owners were more likely to make a dog ‘dangerous’ and suggested changing trends were exacerbating the problem.

“There is a worrying trend in some areas of using dangerous dogs as fashion accessories or, worse still, as weapons,” he said.

“Dogs often only become violent as a result of mistreatment by owners – or because of a failure to train them properly.

“There needs to be a greater emphasis on responsible dog ownership and warning people of the risks, particularly to children, rather than taking a purely enforcement-based approach.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said incidents of dog attacks and the existence of punitive laws would persuade dog-owners to exercise safe control over their pets.

But a spokesperson said there would be no specific review as a result of the Lib Dems’ findings.

“We keep the Act under regular review and last year we carried out a consultation with the police on dangerous dogs legislation,” a spokesperson said.

“At the time the police did not indicate there was any need to add any other types of dogs to the list of prohibited dogs covered by the Act.”