As the nation’s schools finish for the summer break, NAWT is reminding dog owners about keeping their dogs safe from incidents during the traditional peak time for dog bite incidents.
NHS statistics show a 5.8% increase in hospital admissions to 6,743 cases (Feb13-Mar14) with admissions being highest during the summer months. Separate research from the Royal Mail also confirms attacks on its postal workers are highest during school holidays.
Children under the age of nine represent the highest group of admissions and bites were usually from family dogs and dogs owned by friends or neighbours.
With the newly changed Dangerous Dogs Act being extended to incidents taking place on private as well as public property, dog owners should ensure they are keeping their dogs safe from any potential risk of an incident this summer.
NAWT CEO Clare Williams said: “There are steps we can all take to minimise the risks. Make sure your garden is secure, that your dog is separated from the area that a visitor is likely to come into your garden. And be sure to assess how your dogs behave around children and strangers coming to your home.
“The onus is on owners to prove they are taking all the right steps to ensure they are behaving in a responsible manner, so use this an opportunity to review your routine by reading our advice on the Dangerous Dogs Act.”
If an owner goes away on holiday and leaves the dog with a friend or dog sitter, both the owner and the person left in charge of your dog could be liable for prosecution if an offence occurs under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
Solicitor Trevor Cooper, of www.doglaw.co.uk, said:
“An owner would have a defence if you can prove that you left your dog with someone you reasonably believed to be a ‘fit and proper’ person to be in charge of it. However, the person in charge would be criminally liable if the dog was dangerously out of control, even if it was the first time they ever had the dog.
“The penalties can be severe. For a case where a victim has been injured, for the offender there is a potential prison sentence of up to 5 years and they can be ordered to pay an unlimited fine and unlimited compensation. As to the dog, even if someone else had charge of it at the time of the incident, there is a presumption that it shall be destroyed unless the owner can prove it is safe and that you’re someone that the Court can trust to keep it under proper control in the future.
“Don’t take risks as your dog may not get a second chance.”
‘This is something that dog owners and even dog sitters may not be aware of’ says Clare Williams of NAWT, ‘Our advice is to ensure that whoever is looking after your dog is aware of all aspects of your dog’s behavior and any ways that you manage your dog’s behaviour in the home or out on walks. Also if you are relying on someone that has not looked after your dog before, then arranging for your dog to stay with them for a trial day and night is a good way for them to get to know each other and see if any potential problems are likely to arise.’