“Severe dog attacks” are experiencing a worrying trend in Britain as an academic warns they are on the rise. Dr John Tulloch, a specialist in veterinary public health, said the past 20 years have seen dog attack cases “creeping up and up” and that it constitutes a “growing public health problem”.
The academic from the University of Liverpool authored research in 2021 revealing a concerning rise in dog bite incidents over the past 20 years, Mail Online reports.
He told the publication most cases involve a dog “known to the victim”.
He said: “Children still account for around 25 percent of hospital admissions due to dog bites, but we need to understand why adults are being attacked more now, it’s a striking problem.
“And more deprived areas of the country have higher dog bite hospitalization rates compared to the least deprived communities, which had the lowest.”
Dr Tulloch’s remarks come against a backdrop of another fatal dog attack in the UK, as four-year-old Alice Stones was killed by a dog at her home in Milton Keynes, Bucks, on Tuesday.
The animal was destroyed by police and so far Thames Valley Police had said no arrests had been made.
And this week an inquest heard how dog walker Natasha Johnston, 28, from Croydon, died after she was set upon while walking a group of canines at a popular spot in Caterham, Surrey, on 12 January.
In 2022, a record 10 people, including four children, were killed after being bitten by dogs.
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None of the animals involved were understood to have been from the UK’s list of banned breeds under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. That legislation targets four specific breeds, the pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Brasiliero.
However, a rise in dog attacks from just over 3,000 in 2002 to nearly 9,000 in 2021 has sparked some debate if more breeds need adding to the Act.
The Covid Pandemic and lockdown saw a 10 percent rise in dog ownership in the UK. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association says 34 percent of households now own a dog, taking the country’s canine population to 13 million.
However, some experts believe the Dangerous Dogs Act limits the public’s ability to understand that it’s not those “banned breeds” that can be dangerous.
Dr Sam Gains, the RSPCA’s head of companion animals, science and policy, told the Mail Online: “There becomes this perception that any other type of dog is friendly which then leads to situations where people engage in high-risk behavior without realizing that any dog, if they feel stressed or frightened, has the potential to be aggressive.
“We have long been calling for a complete reform of dog control laws and strongly believe we need a different approach to keeping the public safe and the welfare of dogs protected.”
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