RECKLESS pet owners have been blamed for a 13% increase in hospital dog bite cases over the last five years.
The Express has learned urgent care staff have dealt with 3,712 cases of dog bites at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust since 2007.
Alarmingly, the number of patients needing hospital treatment for bites has risen from 701 to a five-year high of 793 cases in 2011.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show there are now more than two bite-related injuries every day treated at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
Around a quarter of the 793 annual total for 2011 were suffered by children under the age of 16. Worryingly, around one in seven bites were on youngsters of primary school age.
Last year 36 patients had to be admitted to hospital wards with “serious” bite injuries. This figure represented a 12% increase from 2007 but dropped from a five-year high of 39 “serious” injuries the previous year.
The figures come just days after a “dangerous” Staffordshire bull terrier-cross was sentenced to death after attacking two policemen.
The dog “Dyson” was made the subject of a destruction order by Burnley Crown Court after its owner Lee Rainford (26), of Leyland Road, admitted having the dog dangerously out of control in a public place.
Officers were set upon by two large dogs when they went to Rainford’s address in June. Dyson tried to bite one officer and then sank its teeth into a special constable’s thigh leaving the victim needing hospital treatment for four puncture wounds.
A similar case last summer saw a rottweiler attack three people in Burnley including an 83-year-old woman and a 62-year-old after it repeatedly escaped from a house in Barden Lane.
Coun. Karen Heseltine, a qualified member of the British Institute of Professional Dog Trainers, said: “These figures are seriously worrying. But we have got to get this into perspective – it is not the breeds, it is the owners.
“Staffordshire bull terriers can be a lovely breed if they are properly socialised from an early age and equally a Jack Russell can be classed as a dangerous dog.
“It is down to bad ownership and the way these dogs are brought up. These dogs that are biting people have probably not been trained properly, they have been ill-treated or reared wrong. Obviously the bigger dogs have bigger jaws so they can do a lot more damage.”
Coun. Heseltine has called for dog owners to take responsibility for their pets. “We need to get a grip of this. All dogs should be micro-chipped so every one is registered. It would be a form of ID to know where the dog lives and who own it asdog licences are just not enforceable.
“I think everyone should have to go for puppy socialisation and training classes. I know the National Canine Defence League are offering free spaying too.”