Tough action on irresponsible pet owners

David Walker and his dog Bonnie were attacked by two dogs while they were walking on a Mansfield park
David Walker and his dog Bonnie were attacked by two dogs while they were walking on a Mansfield park

Tough new laws have been brought in as part of a Government drive to target irresponsible dog owners following a spate of attacks around Mansfield and Ashfield in recent months.

Owners face £20,000 fines if they fail to take reasonable steps to prevent their pets from attacking people or other dogs.

Authorities in England and Wales will be able to demand that owners are trained, dogs are muzzled or animals microchips, as part of the Government drive to ‘get tough’ on irresponsible owners.

The news follows two vicious attacks by out-of-control animals on dogs and their owners on Mansfield parks in the past month and has been included within new anti-social behaviour legislation

In recent years, Chad has also reported on dozens of attacks, with owners and animal rescue charities calling for tougher action.

Mansfield resident David Walker (49) contacted Chad after his 21-month-old Border Collie Bonnie (both pictured) was attacked by two dogs on Racecourse Park on 7th October.

He said: “I was walking on the park at around 7.30pm when two tan coloured Staffordshire bull terrier-like dogs came running towards us,

“My own dog Bonnie was walking beside me off her lead when the two dogs attacked us - one went for me and the other went for my dog, then they both turned and savagely attacked Bonnie.

“It took several minutes for the owners to get to us and they struggled to get control of their dogs who just kept on attacking my dog.

“Once they had their dogs on a lead, with my help, I shouted Bonnie back who was limping by this time.

“I asked both the owners for their address as I thought my dog was injured and I also noticed one of their dogs had bitten my hand, which I pointed out to them. But all I got was verbal abuse from them which just got more aggressive.

“At this point I thought it best to just walk away, but even as I was leaving they let their own dogs off their leads again.

“My own dog was unable to walk at this point. The owners saw all this but did not appear to have any remorse or compassion and just continued as if nothing had happened.

“It was a very scary experiences which meant I had to get medical treatment for the bite on my hand and an expensive vet’s bill for Bonnie.

“Luckily both myself and my dog where only slightly injured and the wounds will heal in time, but my concern is for other more vulnerable people just out and about just walking their dogs.

“I’m used to dogs and I know how to handle them - but if these two animals had attacked somebody else it could have been a very different story.”

Another Mansfield resident, who has asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, has been left with a vet’s bill of more than £1,700 after her own dog was attacked by a pack on Moor Lane Park two weeks ago.

Her dog was left with a punctured stomach and a string of operations following the attack, which happened while the woman was with her nine-month-old grandchild.

She said: “the dogs were without their owners and just began rampaging - barking, snarling and attacking owners and their pets. I was forced to push my grandchild away from me in her pushchair whilst our dog, who was causally sniffing around on her lead was set upon and viciously attacked.

“I was left unable to defend her and other dog owners thankfully came to my aid - although they were just as frightened as me.

“The dog would not let go of our pet and locked its jaws while the other dogs circled around us as a pack, snarling and snapping.

“There was a hole in my dog’s stomach big enough to put your fist in - we’ve already had to pay for two operations and there will be more to come.

“I haven’t been able to eat or sleep since it happened - I just keep thinking that it could just have easily been my grandchild that they attacked.

“I really believe that dogs need to be licenced again, and they should be chipped. I also think dog training should be compulsory for all owners.

“A dog is a dangerous weapon - you wouldn’t let someone get behind the wheel of a car without a licence, and a dog can be just as dangerous as a car.”

Last year, Chad also reported on a spate of dog attacks around the Bellamy Road area, and a Yorkshire Terrier which was mauled to death at King’s Mill Reservoir.

Prison sentences for owners of violent dogs were extended earlier this year as part of changes to legislation.

Owners now face a maximum of 14 years for a fatal dog attack, five years for an injury and three years for an attack on an assistance dog.

According to the latest figures, in 2013, 6,740 people required hospital treatment for dog attacks - an increase of six per cent from the previous year.

In total, eight adults and 13 children have died from dog attacks since 2005.

Four breeds of dog were banned under the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, with an amendment making it an offence to be the owner of a dog which is out of control in a public place or a private place where it is not permitted to be.

The new legal powers came into force last week and police and local authorities are being sent a Practitioners Manual detailing how they will work.

Animal welfare minister Lord de - said: “Dog attacks are devastating for victims and their families which is why we are taking tough action against those who allow them to happen.

“Police and local authorities will now have more powers to demand that irresponsible dog owners take steps to prevent attacks before they occur. This is on top of the tougher prison sentences we introduced earlier this year for owners who allow their dogs to attack people and assistance dogs.”