Recent figures from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database suggest there has been a sharp increase in admissions to hospital following bites from dogs. For the period March 2014 to February 2015, there were 7,227 admissions to hospital as a direct result of dog bites, an increase of 6.5% compared to the previous 12 month period.
The statistics need to be viewed in conjunction with recent reports of a large increase in the number of dogs seized by police following attacks on members of the public by both banned pit bulls and legal breeds. Consideration needs to be given to the cause of these disturbing findings.
Firstly, irresponsible backstreet breeding must play a large part in the increase of bites from banned and dangerous legal breeds. Secondly, some blame has to be attributed to inadequate training and handling by owners.
So, what is being done to protect the public? Legislative changes to the Dangerous Dog Act have been in force since 2014. The act makes it an offence for any person in charge of a dog, regardless of breed, to allow it be “dangerously out of control” in a public place. The Act also now covers incidents on private property.
Whilst the changes to the law are a step in the right direction, it is clear that there is a long way to go to ensure public safety going forwards.
The figures perhaps do not come as a surprise to those who practice in this specialist area. Claims made by people suffering serious dog bites are being seen more regularly by practitioners.
If you, or anyone you know has been affected by the issues raised in this blog, contact our specialist solicitors on 0800 316 8892.