AM Julie Morgan in microchip call over Wales' dog attacks
- 19 December 2011
- From the section Wales
Out-of-control dogs are attacking people in Wales almost every other day on average, police figures reveal.
Some 497 attacks have been recorded in three years, but no action has been taken against owners in most cases.
Incidents range from minor bites to legs and arms to serious attacks where chunks of flesh are bitten off.
Cardiff North AM Julie Morgan, who obtained the figures, wants compulsory microchipping to enable owners of dogs involved in attacks to be traced.
Those listed as causing injuries in attacks include Staffordshire bull terriers, rottweilers and alsatians, but there are also incidents involving Jack Russells and border collies.
There have also been attacks by American pit bulls, which are banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.
Mrs Morgan, who obtained the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, said the number of incidents could be even higher, with some police forces only able to give limited information.
"These figures show there are hundreds of attacks across Wales, many of which are caused by so-called 'status dogs' which are bought for vanity and image," she said.
"It is imperative that dog owners realise the importance of properly looking after their pets, regardless of breed, including making sure they get regular exercise to avoid pent-up aggression.
"I know that the Environment Minister John Griffiths is looking at compulsory microchipping of dogs and I strongly back this.
"It will force owners to take more responsibility as they know that any dog involved in an incident will be traced back to them."
A young boy in Mrs Morgan's constituency was injured in an attack earlier this year which led to the dog being destroyed.
The Kennel Club, which promotes the welfare of dogs and is campaigning for all dogs to be microchipped, said part of the problem was the Dangerous Dogs Act.
A spokeswoman said the organisation would allow the banning of particular breeds to be phased out because there were only "dangerous owners not dangerous breeds".
"We think being breed-specific has created the problems," she said.
"Stafffordshire bull terriers are naturally loving dogs but because they look similar to pitbulls, the wrong type of people have got hold of them.
"They have not socialised the dogs, that is the problem. They don't know how to care for them."
Labradors and border collies also bite people, she said, but the media was not as obsessed with those breeds as much as banned breeds.
Outlawed types are the pitbull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino and fila brasileiro.
Kevin Jones, secretary of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of South Wales, said it was important that owners took responsibility for their dogs.
"Any dog can bite, from the smallest to the biggest. At the end of the day, the owners should be responsible. That's why microchipping is a good idea," he said.
Last week, judges published the first proposed sentencing guidelines for people convicted for dangerous dogs offences in England and Wales.
The maximum sentence is two years.
People convicted of the lesser offence of possessing a banned dog should face a fine, said the council, with jail reserved for only the most extreme cases.