Shake-up bid to dog laws

Jade Anderson, who was killed by pack of dogs in Atherton
Jade Anderson, who was killed by pack of dogs in Atherton

A change to dangerous dogs laws could impact on Wigan in the wake of a series of horrific animal attacks in recent years.

The RSPCA says new legislation should allow dogs to be banned due to their behaviour rather than their breed.

The charity claims the Dangerous Dogs Act in its current form is too wide in its scope.

Recent figures show that Greater Manchester Police has seized more than 300 dangerous dogs since 2013.

Wigan borough residents have witnessed at first hand some of the worst distress caused by dangerous dog attacks, none more so than the tragic case of Jade Lomas Anderson who was mauled to death by four dogs in Atherton in 2014.

More recently a four-year-old in Standish suffered a 
fractured skull in a dog attack in 2015. Earlier this year resident Merrielle Hamilton suffered puncture wounds to her hands trying to protect her own dog from a Staffordshire bull terrier.

RSPCA officer Samantha Gaines said assessments for banned breeds are hugely problematic as they are based on appearance, not genetic heritage. This has prompted calls for the law to be amended for dogs to be treated on a case-by-case basis rather than all encompassing breed bans that could spell death for healthy and harmless animals.

Ms Gaines said: “It does mean that any dog - regardless of its heritage can be (classed as a) pitbull terrier if its appearance is similar enough. There is no robust evidence which shows pitbull terriers are any more likely to show aggression than any other breed of dog.”

Pitbulls, Argentine mastiffs and Japanese tosas are among those breeds banned under the 1991 Act. Some dogs can be exempt if a court deems them not a public danger.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said the law should stay the same and its position was supported by the police. He said: “Dog attacks can have horrific consequences for victims and families.

“While any dog can become dangerous if it is kept by irresponsible owners in the wrong environment, the 
prohibition of certain types of dog is crucial to help us deal with the heightened risk they pose.”