An MP has pleaded with dog owners to be responsible after the latest in a series of attacks on young children.
Wansbeck’s Labour MP Ian Lavery has spoken out after a six-year-old girl suffered horrific injuries after being mauled by two American bulldogs as she played yards from her home in Ashington,
Sunday’s attack came on the back of two other similar recent incidents involving youngsters in the town, which have prompted Mr Lavery to repeat calls made in parliament a year ago for compulsory microchipping of dogs to be introduced.
He has also welcomed new legislation which allows creatures to be destroyed and their owners prosecuted where an attack happens on private property.
And in a plea to Ashington dog owners, Mr Lavery added: “The message really is that people in areas where children are playing need to be responsible with all types of dogs because it is not necessarily the perceived evil dogs, the pit bull terriers, any dog can turn at any time against a child and owners have to be responsible.
“The vast majority of people are sensible and understand.
“It is just trying to educate the others to be as responsible as the majority.
“Because if we are not careful, there is going to be more incidents and who knows exactly what could happen.
“We can not continue in Ashington with this sort of occurrence, we can not see it happening on an almost week by week basis.
“We owe it to ourselves to protect each others’ children.”
Sunday’s incident saw Ellie Hall lose part of her ear, have flesh ripped from her arm and suffer bite marks to her head and body.
It followed an attack last month on seven year old Grace Lucas, who lost part of her lip and two teeth after being bitten by a Japanese Akita.
And in March, 20 month old Rod-Jo Aikin was bitten on the face by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier-cross as he played outside his home.
The attacks came as American bulldog puppies were being offered for sale in Ashington for £250, online, while an American bulldog bull mastiff cross is being touted for £100.
Parents of the three victims united in calling for more to be done to protect children.
Ellie’s dad Richie said: “To be honest it is absolutely atrocious. The way I feel at the moment, they should all be destroyed and that is not just the dogs.
“If people are seeing dogs on the street, get the dog catcher, get them phoned, get them taken off the street.”
Rod-Jo’s mum Natalie Steel said of Sunday’s attack coming so close to her son’s experience: “I couldn’t believe it as that’s the third kid it’s happened to in the space of six weeks and the law needs changed as that’s two kids it’s happened to with the same breed of dog.”
Grace’s mum Lianne Lucas added: “I believe the police should have the discretion to prosecute if it happens at all on private land.”
Meanwhile, Mr Hall said he was hoping his daughter would be released from Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where she underwent plastic surgery on Sunday night, today.
He told how an assembly had been held at Ellie’s Central Primary School yesterday where children were warned to be careful around dogs.
“Hopefully there is a bit of a positive to come out of a negative.”
Northumbria Police is continuing inquiries into Sunday’s attack.
Ashington neighbourhood Inspector Dave Harris said: “We encourage every dog owner to be a responsible owner.
“Anyone who owns a dog or is in charge of a dog must ensure they are responsible for it at all times.”