Dangerous dog laws: union bites back at No10

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The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has written to the Prime Minister as part of its 'Bite Back' campaign to renew government awareness of dangerous dog laws.

Dangerous Dog Attacks

In its letter the CWU, which among others in the communications industry represents the interests of postal workers, urges David Cameron to "keep his promise" in addressing the need for a radical overhaul of current dangerous dogs legislation.

The letter, co-signed by the union and campaign partners, was handed in to No10 by a delegation consisting of the CWU, senior representatives of the Police Federation, the National Dog Wardens Association, Blue Cross, Battersea Cats & Dogs Home, the RSPCA and the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Luciana Berger.

Among other signatories to the letter were Andrew Smith, whose 6-year-old daughter Evie was attacked and severely injured by a dangerous dog in an Essex park in January this year. Mr Smith's own father is a postman and CWU member.

Also present in Downing Street were the parents of the toddler John-Paul Massey, who died after being mauled by a dangerous dog in 2009.

The union is protesting about lack of government action on "flawed" dangerous dogs laws, following a 2-year delay since David Cameron wrote to the CWU pledging his personal support.

In his letter, the Prime Minister promised he would give "police and councils more powers to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs by the introduction of Dog Control Notices".

On 1 March 2012, and again in a parliamentary debate a fortnight later, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Jim Paice said his department would announce dangerous dogs measures "before Easter".

With ministerial undertakings yet to bear fruit, campaigners are now calling on the government to give urgent and immediate attention to the issue of dangerous dogs and dog control in England, on behalf of those who have lost their lives and the thousands of people, guide dogs and pets attacked and injured every year.

Lisa Sheldon a partner at Simpson Millar LLP specialising in personal injury claims, noted that the last Labour government started a consultation process in 2010 on how to strengthen the law.

"However, this ended after the general election," said Lisa. "Regrettably the coalition has yet to take things further or announce any response, still less set out an action plan. The Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 was a deeply flawed and ill-thought piece of legislation and is clearly in urgent need of an overhaul."

The Bite-Back campaign has won cross-party parliamentary support and the backing of many other influential bodies, including unions, animal welfare charities, police, local authorities, dog wardens, vets, nurses, employers and victims' families.

The Scottish and Northern Ireland assemblies already support the campaign, having changed their respective dangerous dog laws in 2011. The Welsh assembly is committed to starting a similar process this year.

Criticising Westminster's apparent inertia, CWU National Health and Safety Officer Dave Joyce observed that for every day passing without a change to the law, another 12 postal workers are attacked and injured as well as "countless" people and animals continuing to be at risk.

"11 members of the public have been killed since 2006, 7 of whom were children and 5 were adults," said Mr Joyce in a letter to union members. "In the past 4 years, 23,000 postal workers have been injured. Every day innocent dogs are bitten or attacked by other dogs and around 7 guide dogs are attacked by other dogs each month."

Welcoming support from all quarters, the CWU has set up an e-petition calling for action on irresponsible dog ownership.


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