Increase in dog attacks

ATTACKS by out-of-control dogs on other animals are on the increase.

Figures from Hastings Borough Council show that in the six months since the start of this year there have been 29 reported dog-on-animal attacks, which averages at more than one a week.

This is more than the 25 attacks reported in the nine months from April to December last year.

In the last year there have been four dog control orders placed on dogs through magistrates courts, as a result of attacks in Hastings.

Caroline Kelly, spokesperson for Hastings Borough Council, said: “While we have seen a rise in the number of incidents reported to us over the last few months, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why; whether it’s simply a rise in the number of cases of aggressive dogs attacking other animals or a rise in the reporting of these cases.

“Either way, this is exactly why we introduced and positively enforce Dog Control Orders in all public places.

“If you see or if you, or your pet, are the victim of an attack from an out of control dog, please report this to us as soon as you can.

“We believe that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible but the few that choose to let their pets off leads face a fine from our team of Street Wardens or, in more serious cases, intervention by the police.”

The most recent case reported in the Observer was the horrific mauling of Simon Bartlett’s Border Terrier Betsy, in Hastings Country Park by three large mastiffs described by a vet as “killer dogs.”

His dog’s injuries were so severe that she had to be put down.

Sheldon Chambers has a similarly sad story, as he and his wife watched their 14-week-old puppy savaged to death by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier in Alexandra Park last August.

These are two examples on the extreme end of the spectrum, but anecdotal evidence suggests that many more minor attacks are currently going unreported, or resulting in owners left to fork out for vet bills.

Mr Chambers, of St Helens Road, said: “Either attacks are increasing because of the types of owners, or the numbers of particular breeds of dogs.

“A couple of stories I have heard from people in the past, the owners of the attacking dogs just laughed, or didn’t do anything.

“With Staffordshire Bull Terriers, I still believe that somewhere in their DNA they are hard-wired to attack.

“I don’t think the laws are strong enough to be honest. Action needs to be taken against these people.”

He appealed for anyone whose pet was attacked, or who witnessed an attack to report it.

A spokesperson for the RSPCA said: “There has been a trend in the last 10 years of youngsters keeping dogs to look hard and training them to be aggressive, particularly the bull breeds.

“Dogs are generally only as aggressive as they are trained to be. You can get a chihuahua or a poodle that is really aggressive, or a Rottweiler that is really gentle.”

To report a dog attack on another animal call the council on 01424 451077 or visit www.hastings.gov.uk/environment_planning/cleaner_hastings/dogs/dog_control/ for information on dog control orders.

For a dog attack on a person contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.