Call to change rules on dog attacks

Valerie Clarke's nine-month-old whippet Missy had her leg ripped off by a bull terrier-type dog on Harpers Lane, Chorley, in November
Valerie Clarke's nine-month-old whippet Missy had her leg ripped off by a bull terrier-type dog on Harpers Lane, Chorley, in November

Dog attacks in Chorley are now such a problem that council leaders are demanding a change in the law to tackle it.

Chorley Council received 105 calls between April 2010 and April this year about animals being mauled in the streets.

The figure is set to top that in 2011/12 as there have already been 87 reports in the first seven months.

Following the spate of savage attacks in the borough, which have seen puppies lose their limbs and being killed, the authority now wants more powers to bring irresponsible dog walkers to justice.

Coun Eric Bell, who oversees animal welfare, said: “It’s been really shocking to hear about some of the dog attacks that have happened over the last few weeks and months, and it is a real issue for people in Chorley.

“But our powers to deal with this problem are restricted if it’s a dog-on-dog attack, and we don’t think that is right.

“We want to be able to take action against those who think it is ok to let their dog attack another pet.”

Council bosses are taking action for tougher regulations against owners, and have written to the government expressing their concerns over the rules about how local authorities can tackle the issue.

At the moment, the council is restricted to using the civil complaint route under the Dogs Act 1871 legislation.

This limits the action that can be taken in the immediate aftermath of an attack, and controls the sanctions a magistrate can impose on the dog owner if the complaint is found in favour of the council.

Their powers also rely on a specific breed type; a specific location to be satisfied; or a person to be attacked before action can be taken, which Chorley Council believes should be changed.

Bosses are now calling for an amendment to the Dogs Act 1991 to give local authorities and the police powers to seize a dog that attacks another animal, and be able to bring a criminal prosecution against the owner.

Coun Bell said: “I just want to reassure people that we find these types of attacks totally unacceptable and we are doing all we can to tackle the problem.

“The number of reports we are getting of dog-on-dog attacks is increasing and we hope a change in the law will help.”

Residents have been left distraught after their pets have been seriously injured in Chorley, and one incident involved a nine-month-old whippet having her front leg ripped off.

In a one case a King Charles Spaniel was killed in Coppull while Valerie Clarke’s nine-month-old whippet Missy had a leg pulled off.

Coun Bell added: “I’d urge residents to help us catch the irresponsible owners and report any aggressive dogs they see in Chorley so we can prevent any more attacks.”