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Dangerous dogs in our neighbourhood

February 8, 2010

22nd January 2010

An awful incident happened just after Christmas when a 3 year old girl was mauled by a Staffordshire bull terrier at Dunoon House on the Bemerton Estate. As the dog bit into the girl’s upper right leg, her Mum was attacked by a second dog as she tried to rescue her. The child was rushed to UCH for treatment to her wounds. Fortunately these were not life threatening and we hope that she has not sustained a long-term injury. But she will probably bear the emotional and physical scars for a very long time.

Every parent in the neighbourhood will shudder at this news. There are two problems: a small minority of dog owners let their dogs get out of control – or even worse – like to have “status” breeds like Staffordshire and pit bull terriers. The presence of out-of-control dogs is made worse by the Lib Dem Council’s “hands-off” attitude to dog control.

Labour Councillor Paul Convery says “I’m the parent of two small children myself and threatening dogs are an ever-present worry when you have little ones. Every couple of days, you walk down the street and see a dog who is not on a leash or who is not under control or who is a dangerous breed”.

On 21st January, two residents of Dunoon House were charged and named by the police. Doris Carter was charged with two offences: being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control in a public place and obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty. Her son Gerald Carter was also charged with obstructing a constable. Both were released on bail to appear at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court on 9th February. It has also been reported that Homes for Islington is also going to evict them. Staffordshire bull terrier is not a banned breed but failing to control such a dog is indeed an offence.

The police in this Borough are already engaged in a major crackdown against dog fighting and illegal dog breeding. But what should be done about the behaviour of people who own potentially dangerous dogs? The Council should differentiate between “good” and “bad” owners straight away. The simplest way to do this is to introduce a byelaw requiring all dogs to be kept on a lead except when being exercised in a designated area. Responsible dog owners generally do this anyway. Making it mandatory will immediately identify the irresponsible owners … or at least require them to comply in which case they are at least keeping such dogs under check.

Sadly the Council has done exactly the opposite. Following their flawed “Dogs Strategy” they introduced orders 18 months ago that permit anyone to let their dogs roam free on streets and housing estates. A number of specific areas are designated as “dog free” although several of these are impossible to enforce. For example dogs are allowed anywhere in Bingfield Park … except the play pitch which is “designated” dog-free. But the pitch is not fenced-off so dogs can quite easily roam on it.

Paul Convery says: “The vast majority of responsible dog owners walk their animals on-leash. But the small minority of anti-social dog owners are “free” to let their dogs roam and use their animals to intimidate. This is typical of the perverse doctrinal obsession of a Liberal Democrat council that values the “freedom” of anti-social individuals above the safety and peace of mind of the wider community.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Stephanie Delcroix permalink
    February 25, 2010 10:00 pm

    I am horrified to read about the attack on the little girl. This is the first time I hear about it and I live on the Bemerton Estate. It seems that the so called ‘status’ breed are the most popular ones in the immediate neighbourhood and that over the last 5 years the number of dogs from this breed has noticeably increased.

    I have a 21-month old girl and we came across fighting dogs nearly every day in the area and the surrounding neighbourhoods. A good part of them are on leash but it is hardly reassuring given that none of them are trained as one can see from the way they pull on their leash. I get a real fright from unleashed fighting dogs and have had to simply turn around when I come across one or turn my baby’s pushchair towards me and faint readjusting her hat, acting a human shield! This is ridiculous but my improvised way of coping with the threat.

    One can blame irresponsible dog owners but more importantly the council for having introduced orders which make it legal for dangerous dogs to roam freely in public spaces. It is totally irresponsible for politicians to pass such laws without thinking of their consequences. I don’t even understand who it really benefits. What about the freedom to be out on the street and in the park with your children and babies and be safe? Babies and toddlers are the most vulnerable given their size in proportion to these dogs and the fact that they are in prams facing potential attackers. Most of the other mums I have talked to about this problem just as terrified as I am. A number of dog owners are also frightened of ‘status’ breed dogs as they can be quite aggressive towards other breed. It is time local governments take action and do something about this. So at the time of imminent election, I would like to hear more about the plans of the Labour candidates at a local but also national level.

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