Victims of dog attacks praise new legislation

Grace Lucas, Lee Holdroyd and Rod-Jo Aiken.
Grace Lucas, Lee Holdroyd and Rod-Jo Aiken.

Victims of recent dog attacks in Ashington have welcomed a change in the legislation.

Last week a change to the Dangerous Dog Act came into force, meaning incidents that occur on private property are now covered in the same way as attacks in public spaces.

Under the law, police now have powers to seize a dangerous, out of control dog in a private place, and dog owners whose pets attack people face tougher penalties.

Lee Holdroyd became the fourth person in Ashington to be injured by a dog since March.

An English bull terrier bit his face last week when it went for his Jack Russell in his garden.

“This dog just went straight for mine, so I went to pick him up and he bit my face,” he said.

Lee, of Sycamore Street, required seven stitches in his mouth after the attack, and is pleased the law has finally been amended.

“It is something that is happening more and more often,” he added.

“It is getting out of hand.

“I think the change in law is good but it won’t help the people who it is too late for.

“I think every dog should be microchipped and you should have to have a dog licence.”

Lianne Lucas’ daughter Grace lost two teeth when a Japanese Akita bit her last month.

She said: “I think the change in the law is absolutely fantastic.

“I am pleased that it’s happening and I think it’s good, but I feel it’s a bit late to wait for so many attacks like this, I don’t know why it would take so long.

“It’s a shame it has taken four people, including three young children, to get hurt.

“It’s the end of it now, and hopefully it will put fear into dog owners and make them responsble.

“The threat of being put in prison should be enough.”

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has welcomed the amended legislation, which he proposed 16 months ago.

“I am delighted that the legislation has changed so that people can be prosecuted if something happens on private land,” he said.

“But owners must be responsible – regardless of the breed – at all times.

“Any dog can turn at any moment and people have to be very careful.

“This is not job done, however, and we will be campaigning to tighten the law even more.

“I led the debate on this 16 months ago as it is something that happens across the country, but it is unfortunate that we have seen a spate of attacks in Ashington in a short space of time.

“We need to stamp it out.”

Earlier this month, six-year-old Ellie Hall suffered horrific injuries after being attacked by two American pit bull dogs near her home in Ashington.

And back in March, Natalie Steel’s 20-month-old son Rod-Jo Aikin was left scarred for life when a stray Staffordshire bull Tterrier-cross bit his face as he played outside their Tweed Street home.

The amendment extends the scope of the law to cover private places in addition to public places, increases the prison sentence for those convicted of some offences, and creates a new offence for a dog attacking an assistance dog.

It also provides powers for a police officer or an appointed local authority officer to seize a dangerously out of control dog in a private place, and sets out specific considerations concerning the suitability of an owner and the behaviour of a dog, which a court must take into consideration if it is not to order the destruction of the animal.