Charity warns against ‘demonising’ certain dog breeds as attacks and police seizures rise

PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 22:11 15 May 2017

There was a sharp rise in dog attacks in Essex, going from 473 in 2015 to 600 in 2016

There was a sharp rise in dog attacks in Essex, going from 473 in 2015 to 600 in 2016

Almost 1,500 dog attacks have been reported to police in Suffolk and Essex in the last two years, it can be revealed.

Archie Joe Darby, who was killed in a dog attack in Colchester in 2016, and older brother Daniel-Jay Darby who was seriously injured. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Archie Joe Darby, who was killed in a dog attack in Colchester in 2016, and older brother Daniel-Jay Darby who was seriously injured. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The joint figure for the two counties increased from 696 in 2015 to 799 last year, according to data released following Freedom of Information requests by this newspaper.

The number of dangerous dogs seized by Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police more than doubled during the same period, going from 42 to 95.

Shock waves were sent through the region last year due to the deaths of three-year-old Dexter Neal, who was mauled by an American Bulldog in Halstead, and four-month-old Archie Joe Darby, who was snatched from his mother’s arms by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier-type dog in Colchester.

Dogs Trust UK has called for changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act, which makes it illegal to own a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro in the UK.

Dexter Neal, who was killed in a dog attack last year in Halstead. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Dexter Neal, who was killed in a dog attack last year in Halstead. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “Dogs Trust is concerned to hear that dog attacks in Suffolk and Essex are on the rise, but believes demonising certain breeds is not the answer, and that there is a vital need to overhaul the existing dangerous dog legislation.

“One of the biggest failures of the Dangerous Dog Act is the emphasis on breed-specific legislation. Dogs Trust believes in deed not breed.”

The number of dogs attacks recorded by police in Essex rose from 473 in 2015 to 600 in 2016; while the figure dropped slightly in Suffolk from 223 to 199.

A spokesman for Essex Police said the force treated reports “very seriously” and would fully investigate each incident, with action taken against the owner if a crime had been committed.

He added: “Decisions in relation to the future of any dog are made with the consent of the owner or by a court on the culmination of a court case.”

Pc Emma Grosvenor, dog legislation officer for Suffolk Constabulary, said: “We receive occasional reports of incidents involving dogs.

“Each case is judged on its merits and if called to an incident we would assess whether the dog was a danger to the public or an illegal breed and take the appropriate action.”

Last weekend, two men were taken to hospital after a dog attack in Plane View Close, Clacton; while a two-year-old girl was mauled by a pack of dogs in Liverpool.

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