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Four-fold increase in dog bites

THE NUMBER of children treated for dog bites in West Midlands hospitals has almost doubled in four years. A total of 81 under 18s across the region attended A&E in 2002/03, with the figure rising to 146 in 2006/07, Department of Health figures reveal.

The number of adults treated for dog bites in the region also rose by about 30% in the same period. The figures, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, follow a series of widely publicised attacks on children.

The figures show the number of people in England attending A&E for treatment to dog bites rose by more than 40% over the four-year period to nearly 3,800 a year.

The Liberal Democrats want to see dog owners subjected to stricter legal duties and control orders to impose conditions on ownership. The party supports Breed Specific Legislation and, in the wake of recent well-publicised dog attacks, have called for more breeds to be added to the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

The party’s election manifesto relating to dogs has not changed since the General Elections of 2001 and 2005 and is very un-liberal in its content. The party calls for more BSL restrictions which is says ‘work well in Germany’ where a far harsher range of dog control legislation than the UK’s DDA operates. It would also wish to see dog ownership in flats banned.

The party's health spokesman Norman Lamb called the rise in figures in dog bite figures across England "dramatic" and expressed concern at the way ownership of some dangerous dogs was viewed.

"I think in some communities these dogs have become a badge of honour, a fashion accessory in a way, and I think that's very disturbing," he said. The Department of Health statistics also show wide variations between regions. The number of under 18s injured by dogs in the East Midlands rose by just 2% over the same period. The RSPCA said owners needed to be more responsible as all dog breeds had the potential to be dangerous.