Dog attacks up 50 per cent in last ten years
THE NUMBER of people hospitalised for dog attacks has increased by almost 50% in the past decade, according to a new report, commissioned by pet insurer LV=. Nine out of ten (88%) of these attacks required emergency treatment and the average hospital stay after a dog attack is two to three days.
Incidents involving children under the age of nine account for one in five (21%) of all attacks and children often suffer the most serious injuries. The LV= research has found the problem is particularly bad in urban areas. Over the last five years the number of patients under 18 treated for dog bites in London has more than doubled, and in the West Midlands it has risen by 80%.
According to vets the most common breed of dog in the UK that is inclined to be aggressive is the German Shepherd. This is followed by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Rottweilers and Jack Russells.
According to US data, Pit Bulls are the most likely dog to bite humans, however these are banned in the UK under the Dangerous Dogs Act so very few exist. The second most aggressive dog that is likely to attack a human is the Rottweiler, a common breed in the UK that is not included in ‘proscribed breeds’ under the Dangerous Dogs Act.
It's not only attacks on humans that are on the increase. One in three (34%) vets have reported an increase in the number of pet owners coming to their practice in the past three years as a result of their dog or other pet being attacked by a dog. Vets tend to an animal injured by a dog three times a month on average. According to the LV= research 33% of current dog owners said their pet had been attacked by another dog.
Practically all vets (96%) interviewed by LV= said they have been asked for advice on training dogs, showing that the vast majority of pet owners take their responsibilities seriously. 63% of vets said the number of owners seeking advice in the past three years had increased. Vets clearly take their advisory role seriously with more than half (56%) saying they have told an owner they need to muzzle their dog and a similar number (54%) have advised that a dog should be put to sleep because of its behavioural issues.
Emma Holyer, Spokesperson for LV= General Insurance, said: ‘If you are thinking about getting a dog you should do your research to ensure you get the right breed for you and your lifestyle. You should research issues like the amount of walking the breed requires, if the property you live in is suitable, if you have a garden or other pets, plus if you have children, whether the breed is suitable for a family environment.’
The report has also highlighted pet owners' concerns about other owners with dangerous dogs. One in four pet owners admits to changing their dog's walking pattern to avoid someone with an aggressive dog and 23% said they worry about their own dog because other dogs in the area are not properly controlled.
It's not just pet owners who have noticed the changes. The report also found that, amongst the general population, 13% of Britons said there had been an increase in the number of ‘aggressive looking' dogs in their area and one in 10 (10%) admitted that some of the animals they see make them feel vulnerable.
The problem is particularly rife in London with a quarter of people (23%) reporting an increase in aggressive dogs in their area and 40% saying that some pet owners in their area don't take adequate responsibility for their animals.
Holyer added: ‘The fact that so many people are reporting an increase in aggressive dogs is worrying for responsible dog owners. This research shows that it's more important than ever to ensure you have pet insurance, so that if one of these dogs attacks your pet, you can ensure your animal has the very best treatment and you are not left with expensive vet bills.
Furthermore if you wanted to go so far as to sue the owner of the aggressive dog LV= has a legal helpline staffed by experts that can advise on how you would go about this.’
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary commented, ‘Dog fighting is a cruel and unnecessary practice that has no place in a civilised society. We are very concerned with such a big increase in figures and the suffering of these animals, which we believe may lead to anti-social and aggressive behaviour.’