THE North East is among the worst in the country for dog attacks, according to new figures.
A list of the top 10 danger spots for attacks of this kind has ranked Newcastle in third place, with 85 people being admitted to hospital for treatment in 2011/12 after incidents involving dogs.
It works out as 30 assaults per 100,000 people – just five less than Wakefield in Yorkshire which topped the list.
The NHS data showed Wakefield as the worst area, followed by Middlesbrough in second place, then Newcastle, Redcar and Cleveland, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, South Birmingham, Knowsley, Central Lancashire and Halton & St Helens.
There were 34 assaults per 100,000 people in Middlesbrough, meaning 47 people needed hospital treatment in 2011/12, while in Redcar and Cleveland there were 28 assaults per 100,000 people, with 38 requiring medical attention.
Separate figures obtained by The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that, over the past two years, a total of 15 dogs have been put down and owners have been charged with dog-related offences, given cautions and formal warnings following attacks in the region.
In May last year, six-year-old Rebecca Learmouth was left needing surgery when she was viciously attacked in Harbottle Street, Byker, Newcastle.
The youngster was playing with friends when two Staffordshire Bull Terriers, owned by Thomas Hope, were being walked by his partner.
Rebecca asked if she could pat the pair, called Max and Ellie, who were both on leads, but was told to stay away from Max. She began to stroke Ellie but seconds later four-year-old Max turned on the Year One Byker Primary School pupil, biting her face.
Hope was summoned to Newcastle Magistrates’ Court to answer a charge of being the owner of a dog which was dangerously out of control in a public place – an allegation he denied.
The 23-year-old from Norbury Grove, Walker, Newcastle, admitted the civil complaint of being the owner of a dog which was dangerous and not kept under control.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to the more serious criminal charge and that charge was withdrawn. The young girl’s mother, Louise Cavanagh, has previously spoken of her shock at the number of children attacked in the region.
She said: “It’s surprising how many children have been attacked. People need to realise that any dog can attack, it’s not just Staffies. Children should never be left alone with dogs, even family pets can sometimes turn. If the dog feels frightened or threatened it will bite.”
In the Northumbria force, three dogs were put down and three people were charged with offences under the dangerous dog act.
Children, as young as five were attacked, while youngsters suffered punctures to the face, hands, eyes, and some injuries needed stitches.