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Laws could get tougher for ‘dangerous’ dogs


TOUGHER rules concerning dangerous dogs may well be rushed through if the probe into John Paul Massey’s death reveals any loopholes in the law.

The Home Office pledged this week to consider changes to the current dog laws, ahead of the four-year-old’s funeral which was held on Tuesday and attended by hundreds of people. John Paul died after he was attacked by a pit bull at his grandmother’s home in the Wavertree area of Liverpool two weeks ago.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson has reportedly already begun talks with ministers about a possible need to overhaul the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act in the wake of the youngster’s death. He is awaiting reports from Merseyside Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), both of which could be received early in the new year.

Wavertree MP, Jane Kennedy, has also urged the Government to accept the need to microchip every dog to make it easy for police and council wardens to find – and possibly destroy – illegal breeds.

Pressure

Ministers now face growing pressure following a public outcry after John Paul was mauled to death by the dog, which belonged to his uncle. He suffered fatal head and neck injuries during the attack. It is believed he was staying overnight at his gran’s house while his parents were out together.

Former minister Mrs Kennedy raised the issue of the boy’s death in the House of Commons on Monday. David Hanson, Mr Johnson’s deputy, said in reply: “The Home Secretary is in discussions with Department for Environment, Food and Rurral Affairs about what steps, if any, we need to take to make sure we prevent this type of incident occurring again. We will certainly look at this, look at the lessons and make sure we do all we can to stop dangerous dogs like this.”

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said: “We are already looking at it because if we do need to make any changes we will need to get on with it pretty quickly.”

Mrs Kennedy hopes to meet Merseyside’s senior investigating officer this week to discuss the case’s progress. She said: ‘We don't yet know what will be in the final reports but I have no doubt that we need tougher legislation. So I'm pleased if the government is ready to do that. If you own a dog it should be microchipped and registered. Then, if the police or a dog warden found a dog that looked dangerous and was not chipped they would know straightaway that it was not legal.’

Another common criticism of the 1991 Act is that it covers only four types of dog – pitbulls, the Japanese Tosa, the Dogo Argentino and the Fila Brasileiro – which allows owners to cross-breed different types to get around the law.

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