Shock toll of animals taken by county police in just one year

Banned: A pit bull terrier
Banned: A pit bull terrier
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A banned dog is seized from the streets of Lancashire every three days, shock figures reveal today.

Data released under Freedom of Information laws shows that in 2013 officers seized 119 dogs suspected to be potentially dangerous illegal breeds.

Today’s figures come as new laws come into force this week giving police stronger powers to tackle dangerous dogs.

Lancashire Police today said they were working hard to make sure owners comply with legislation but one pet owner whose cat was savaged in the street by a dangerous dog said more needs to be done to educate owners about the potential dangers. Jayne Mitchell, 41, of Cloughfield, Penwortham, also said there should be more of a commitment from rescue centres over who is given these types of dogs.

Jayne’s 17-year-old cat Sweep was attacked and killed by a bulldog cross-breed in the street and dumped in a bin.

Today Jayne said: “The figures really don’t surprise me. More needs to be done with the owners. I think rescue centres should make a commitment to the process.

“Dogs shouldn’t just be handed to anybody.

“They should be checked out and made sure they know how to care for the dogs.”

The owner of the dog that attacked Jayne’s cat was never prosecuted but he was visited by the dog warden, Jayne said.

The figures show, of the 119 dogs seized, seven were disclaimed by their owners and destroyed; 20 were assessed, found not to be a dangerous breed and returned to their owner; three were proceeded against over a criminal charge; 42 were taken to court; 13 were destroyed via a court order and 37 were released to the owners as exempted dogs.

And Jayne’s story is just one of many reported by the Evening Post in the past 18 months.

In April last year a pet owner whose dog was responsible for three separate attacks was given a ticking off by the courts.

Peter McCallion’s dangerous French Mastiff, Rocky, killed two cats, attacked another dog, and bit a man.

McCallion, of Hawkhurst Road, Penwortham, was given a dog control order when he appeared at South Ribble Magistrates’ Court.

Magistrates found that Rocky was dangerous and not being kept under proper control.

He was also ordered to keep the dog on a lead and muzzled at all times in public places.

Michelle Isherwood whose cat was mauled to death by the dog claimed at the owner had “got away with it” and a stiffer punishment should have been given.

Last week the Evening Post reported a man was bitten in his privates by a dog dangerously out of control.

Malcolm Calder, 63, was visiting a mid terraced house in Cheviot Street, Ashton, on work business when the Staffordshire bull terrier burst out through a door and attacked him on June 10 this year.

The dog’s owner Daniel Towers, 33, of Cheviot Street, has been given unconditional bail until November 13 when he will appear at the same court. The court is expected to determine whether or not to grant a destruction order on the animal.

It follows an incident in January last year when a pensioner was left with horrific injuries after being attacked by a dog.

Valerie Mears, who was 65 at the time, was out walking her son Andrew’s dogs on Barley Field, Bamber Bridge, when she was attacked by a dog, believed to have been an Alsatian.

She was walking two miniature poodles, Wesley and Jasper, when the dog set upon her, knocking her to the floor and leaving her with severe bite marks to her hands.

And Lorna Ward from Ashton Preston was left with a scar on her hand and her pet Shih Tzu, Max, suffered a serious leg injury when they were set upon in November last year.

The mum-of-three was left bleeding in the street, cradling her injured dog, after the two dogs savagely attacked her and her pets.

The Freedom of Information request was submitted by DDA Watch, the group which campaigns for fair, effective canine law. They were unavailable for comment.

Today’s figures come as stiffer laws came into force on Monday meaning pet owners will face fines of up to £20,000 if they fail to take steps preventing dog attacks.

Authorities will be able to demand owners be trained, muzzle dogs or insert microchips.

Prison sentences for owners of violent dogs were also extended earlier this year as part of changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.

Owners now face a maximum of 14 years for a fatal dog attack.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We have a responsibility to protect people and keep communities safe.

“And we are determined to work with dog owners to ensure that they comply with legislation and reduce the risk of the tragic consequences of dog bite incidents.