Urgent calls for action after dog attacks

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Urgent calls for responsible dog ownership have been made after it was revealed 16 people from Burnley and Pendle were admitted to hospital in one year as a result of bites or swipes.

The shocking figures, released by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, show that there were 49 dog bites across the whole of East Lancashire in 2013. Eight of these were in Burnley, four were in Colne and four were in Nelson.

Overall the statistics show there has been one more incident in the whole of East Lancashire since 2012, with a slight decrease in the Burnley and Pendle numbers.

But despite the dip, warnings have been made to ensure dogs are “happy, socialised and well balanced” by a local animal welfare charity.

Paula Knowles, from Pendle Dogs In Need, said: “Aggressive behaviour, like most behaviour, is complex and influenced by many things. Dogs don’t bite out of the blue.

“Sometimes these dogs have just been subjected to one situation too many with too much stress and the result is a bite. Dogs in this area are often passed about going from one bad owner to the next with no one willing to put the time and effort into socializing or training them.

“There is no such thing as a bad dog. To own a dog you should be willing and committed to put the time and effort into ensuring they are happy,socialized and well balanced. Sadly though in a lot of instances this just doesn’t happen and the end result is a unhappy,stressed and aggressive dog owned by someone who often doesn’t recognize the warning signs.”

These latest figures come following a national report from The Health and Social Care Information Centre, which shows that there were 6,740 hospital admissions for dog bites across the country in the 12 months to January 2014. This is a six per cent increase on the previous year.

Kingsley Manning, chair of the HSCIC, said: “This report shows that hospital admissions for bites and strikes by dogs are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least deprived areas.

“We know that dog bite rates are particularly high among young children. As we head towards the summer months, when admission rates for dog bites are at their highest, these trends may be worth further study by healthcare organisations and public sector bodies.”

For Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson this is an issue particularly close to his heart, after his mum was treated at Burnley General Hospital in May 2012 for a dog bite.

The MP, who is recovering from gangrenous appendicitis, said: “I think it is shocking that so many people have been admitted to hospital because of dog attacks.

“I was due to spend a day out and about with an RSPCA Inspector across Pendle to see some of the fantastic work they do, but was unfortunately unable to attend because I have been ill. I do intend to do that soon, as I am keen to see firsthand what lessons can be learnt.”

Changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act come into force this month, which will see owners prosecuted for dog attacks on private property.