North West MP Calls For Tougher Dog Laws

12 April 2013, 06:00

The MP for Atherton, where a schoolgirl was mauled to death by a pack of dogs, is calling for the government to go further in its plans to change the law.

Julie Hilling, who represents Bolton West, wants ministers to introduce dog control notices in an attempt to prevent similar attacks from happening.

It follows the death last month of 14-year-old Jade Lomas-Anderson, who was set upon by four dogs inside a friend's home in Chaucer Grove, Atherton, near Wigan.

Earlier this month the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published proposed legal powers to cover attacks on private property.

Once passed, they would mean owners could be prosecuted if their dog caused an injury to another person.

But the North West MP believes the plans fall short by not including dog control notices, which could force owners to muzzle their dogs - or even restrict them to keeping a certain number.

A member of the public who had a concern could report an owner, who would then be visited and potentially be told to abide by a number of conditions:

"That might include things like keeping dogs muzzled," says Ms Hilling, "keeping it on a lead, keeping it away from children and potentially limiting the number of dogs in a household if the household isn't suitable to have that number of dogs in it."

The MP thinks such powers could have made a difference in Jade's case:

"Nobody had made a complaint about dangerous dogs at the household - people had complained about dog noise.

"That may have meant the responsible officer could have gone round, investigated what's happening in the household and instructed the owner to possibly go on training or all sorts of other things."

Animal Welfare Minister Lord de Mauley said the proposals already put forward will improve public safety.

"Out of control dogs are just as much a threat on private property as in public places.

"We are extending the law so that owners who allow their dogs to be dangerously out of control anywhere can be brought to justice."

"The law must recognise the devastating effect that an attack on an assistance dog can have on its owner.

In the past, assistance dogs have been harmed so badly by other dogs that their owners have been robbed of their independence and quality of life."

A petition has been set up calling for the law on dangerous dogs to go further. You can see it here:

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