Dog attacks: Hospital admissions in Wales rise to 410

A consultation on Welsh government legislation to tackle out-of-control dogs ends on Friday

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More people were admitted to hospital in Wales following dog attacks last year than at any point since 1999.

In 2011/12, 410 people were hospitalised as a result of being bitten or struck by a dog, which is nearly double the figure for 2000/01.

The Welsh government is planning dangerous dogs legislation and says it is determined to protect people.

The RSPCA says owners are allowing their dogs "to be out of control".

There are about 500,000 dogs in Wales, and Gethin Russell-Jones, of RSPCA Cymru, said the Dangerous Dogs Act had been ineffective and "addressed the wrong issue".

Start Quote

I knew they were killing him... he looked up at me with his big brown eyes, took his last breath, and he was gone”

End Quote Kay Piatek On the attack which killed one of her dogs

He added: "The real issue is the person at the other end of the lead - that is the owner. Why are there so many owners who are allowing their dogs to be out of control?"

Since the NHS was devolved in 1999, the Welsh government has kept records of hospital admissions and the reasons behind them.

In the first year records were kept, 237 people went to hospital in Wales after a dog attack.

The most recent data, for 2011/12, shows a new high, with 410 going to hospital because of a dog attack, with about a third of them aged under 14.

Kay Piatek, from Newport, was badly hurt when two dogs attacked her and her dogs while she was out walking them. Her arm was broken in two places and one of her dogs was killed.

"I looked up and saw two dogs coming towards me. One was a pitbull cross bullmastiff and one was a Staffordshire bull terrier," she said.

"I bent down to pick my dogs up and as I did I felt the force of this big dog on my back and he knocked me over and I dropped my dogs.

"He grabbed Maxi [one of her dogs] and I knew they were killing him. He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, took his last breath, and he was gone.

"I had two breaks to my arm, I'm scarred for life, and have lost the feeling in two fingers. It aches and aches and aches, I can't even pick anything up with it.

"I did have nightmares, I relive it every day."

Dog welfare charity the Dogs Trust is "deeply concerned" by the figures.

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New measures are needed that would place more responsibility on the owners of aggressive dogs”

End Quote Sian Edwards Dogs Trust South Wales

Sian Edwards, Dogs Trust South Wales campaigns manager, says: "Preventing dog attacks in the first place is the key to ensuring better public safety and new measures are needed that would place more responsibility on the owners of aggressive dogs.

"We believe it is the responsibility of dog owners to ensure their dogs are properly trained and under control and advise that children should never be left alone with a dog."

The Welsh government is planning to bring in legislation about dangerous dogs and says it is "determined" to protect people.

Its proposals include Dog Control Notices which would try to identify out-of-control dogs and force owners to keep tighter control over them.

It also wants to make possible prosecutions under the Dangerous Dogs Act for incidents that happen on private property, as well as the public places which the Act currently covers.

The consultation for people to give views on the proposals ends on Friday.

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