Dog danger

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TWENTY years ago, the Yorkshire Post campaigned successfully to tighten dangerous dog laws in the wake of a series of horrific attacks, most notably in Bradford when six-year-old Rukhsana Khan was nearly killed after being savaged by a pitbull.

We are now seeing a new surge in attacks and, as the problem threatens again to get out of control, it is time for a rethink. Yorkshire again has the shameful record of being one of the most likely places in the UK where an attack will take place – with 700 people hospitalised in less than a year. Charities have warned that in the last five years incidents of bites have rocketed by a staggering 50 per cent. This alarming rise must be halted, and quickly.

There should be as much focus on the owner of the animal as the dog itself.

The Blue Cross charity claims their research reveals genetics play only a small part in the nature of dog. Clearly, some dogs are naturally more aggressive than others, however the nature of their training – or lack of it – is crucial to whether that animal is under control. There seems little point trying to change the status symbol culture of owning an aggressive dog. Sadly this has been a problem for many years. Furthermore, introducing stringent controls on all dog ownership would hamper the many thousands of responsible pet owners.

However, it is possible to step up the campaign against the irresponsible owners directly by giving powers to authorised officers to enforce Dog Control Notices at the first signs of aggression. There must also be much tougher consequences for repeat offenders.

Carrying a weapon in a public place is a serious offence carrying a potential jail sentence because the police want to stop the major crimes before they happens. There are few more dangerous weapons than an out of control, aggressive dog. Those irresponsible enough to parade them on the streets should be punished severely.