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Dog attacks are on the rise. Hospitals say they've seen a significant increase in the number of attacks and the Metropolitan Police report they are called out to deal with dangerous dogs more often. So what can be done to deal with the danger?
A few weeks ago Claire Lambert's two year old son Maurice was attacked by a pit-bull in a London Park. Here she describes what happened and how she believes our streets and parks might be made safe.
On the afternoon of Saturday 4th October 2008, I watched my children play as I sat on a bench soaking up the autumn sun.
Suddenly a large pit-bull ran in to the playground and straight over to my children. My oldest son saw the dog and ran away, but Maurice, who is two and a half, didn't. The dog grabbed him by the leg and shook him like he was a rag doll. The world seemed to go into slow motion. Everyone was screaming but I could make out Maurice's high pitched wail. Although I was only a few metres away it seemed to take an eternity to reach him. I knew the dog might turn on me but I grabbed it by the collar and managed to wrestle it away from my son. As I held him in my arms I felt something warm and wet on my leg. I remember hoping that he'd wet himself, but when I looked down I could see blood seeping through his jeans.
I pulled up his trousers to see that his leg had been ripped apart.
He had two long wide gashes that had flesh hanging out of them. I started screaming for someone to call an Ambulance, and as I sat on the bench waiting for it to arrive I could see my eldest son crying and asking if his brother was going to die. Maurice was in the hospital for five days. The dog had ripped through his tendons. He needed to have two operations, 40 stitches and he still has his leg in plaster. He will be scarred for life physically, and probably emotionally. And even taking all this in to consideration, medical staff told us how lucky Maurice was not to have been bitten on his face, hands or throat.
Perhaps the next time a pit-bull bites a child. They won't be as lucky. So now I am left wondering how we make sure this never happens again?
I am a dog lover. My family kept dogs all the time I was growing up. In an ideal world all dog owners would be responsible, as my family were. But forget it, they're not. The owner of the dog which attacked Maurice, is still convinced it isn't dangerous. It is clear the current law doesn't work. The problem is, if you have a set of rules which only apply to certain breeds, then they are very difficult to police.
So here's what I propose. It seems to me the only solution is to have all dogs on leads unless in designated dog exercise areas. This is the system they have in the US and Scandinavia. It is easy to police and will be effective in making our parks and pavements safe. I know that many dog owners will be reading this now and shaking their heads in disgust at my suggestion. But please, tell me, what other realistic solution is there?
Should all dogs be on leads, as Claire suggests? Should we ban certain breeds of dog? Or make a dog ownership test compulsory? How do we stop dog attacks?
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