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The Kennel Club comments

The Kennel Club is extremely shocked and saddened by the tragic incident that has resulted in the death of a one year old boy in Wakefield. Our thoughts and condolences are with the boy’s family and everyone who knew him.

This dreadful news highlights two things. Firstly, the need for a revision to the current 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act to place more responsibility on the owners of aggressive dogs, to cover the actions of the dog rather than the dog’s breed or type (deed not breed) and to apply to incidents that take place on private property. Secondly the need to educate the public on the vital importance of training dogs correctly and to punish those that fail to do so.

The importance of training and education cannot be overstressed since displays of aggressive behaviour by any dog, regardless of breed is the responsibility of the dog’s owner and in the wrong hands, any type of dog can be dangerous.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary said: "The key is in taking preventative measures, so these types of attacks don’t arise in the first place. These measures include awareness, education and training – the onus being on the owner. A responsible dog owner knows that you never leave a dog and a child, especially an infant, alone and unattended. It is the responsibility of parents, teachers, and the government to educate dog owners and children with what to do and what not to do when they are in the company of a dog".

The Kennel Club offers two education programmes; one aimed at children – Safe and Sound, and one for dog-owning adults, the Good Citizen Dog Scheme. The purpose of the Safe and Sound Scheme is to promote the safe interaction between children and dogs, and teach children how to behave around dogs to stay safe. The scheme is in the form of a fun, interactive programme, and is very popular with children. The Good Citizen Dog Scheme, aimed at adults, covers both the theory and practical dog training skills, which are important in everyday life situations. There are three levels of award, adding to the incentive to take part in the scheme.

Caroline Kisko added "Our deepest sympathies are with the family after what has been a horrendous incident. As far as any future action is concerned we would counsel a measured response rather than an immediate reaction. We have long been working with representatives of the Metropolitan Police and other organisations on our objectives for future dangerous dog legislation, which we believe would better protect the public and the welfare of dogs. The original legislation was drafted in haste in response to a spate of dog biting incidents in the late 1980’s, and it’s because this legislation was a knee-jerk reaction that it was poorly drafted and these incidents continue to occur. Another hasty decision will do nothing to address the real issues of responsible dog ownership".