Dog attacks are more likely to occur across Greater Manchester than most other areas in the country, figures revealed yesterday – and young girls are the most likely victims.
There were 466 hospital admissions for dog bites in Greater Manchester between February 2013 and January 2014.
And while Merseyside comes top, Greater Manchester is not far behind in fifth, the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s report shows.
Salford is the tenth worst borough in the entire country, with more than 60 admissions last year, averaging at 27 admissions per 100,000.
North Manchester was not far behind with an average of 25.1 injuries.
Wigan, where tragically last year 14-year-old Jade Anderson lost her life in an attack by four dogs, had 61 admissions – an average 19.1 admissions per 100,000.
Hospital admissions for dog bites are three times higher in deprived areas than the rest of the country, the figures revealed.
The average number of hospital admissions for deprived areas was 24.1 per 100,000 compared to just 8.1 in the least deprived parts.
Overall there were 6,740 recorded hospital admissions for dog bites and injuries across England, an increase of 6% since the previous year.
Worryingly young children were the most commonly effected, and it seems that girls under 9 were the biggest victims overall, with 588 hospital admissions.
The most common injuries recorded were hand and wrist wounds, and open head wounds.
Shockingly, children received the most open head wounds- with 862 under 9’s admitted to hospital in the last year.
Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston, told MM: “It’s really shocking that hospital admissions for dog bites are so high in Greater Manchester and across the North West.
“Local people have told me the law should be tougher to protect the public from dangerous dogs. But the out of touch Tory-led government has ignored public opinion and refused to tighten up the law.
“As well as legislation there needs to be a long term focus on educating people about responsible dog ownership, anti-social behaviour and the law and I will continue to work with charities like the Blue Cross to promote responsible dog ownership across Trafford.”
Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, said: “These shocking figures prove that the Coalition’s failure to tackle dangerous dogs has had appalling consequences for too many families in the North West.
“We urgently need a coherent strategy, more education about responsible dog ownership and a review of breeding practices to protect the public and promote animal welfare.”
The Dogs Trust, who are all too often handed dogs with behavioural problems, revealed to MM that they believe anti-social behaviour in dogs is all down to a lack of early socialisation.
Research conducted by the Trust earlier this year found that dogs who were not properly socialised as puppies were 25% more likely to show anti-social behaviour towards other dogs and people, compared to those who were socialised in their early months.
To help tackle the problem, the Dogs Trust and the Kennel Club launched a step by step Puppy Socialisation Plan for breeders, re-homing centres and owners.
Carolyn Menteith, Kennel Club accredited instructor who developed the plan, said: “The first four months of a pups’ life are when a puppy is developing his soft skills – in other words his social behaviours and how he responds to new and novel things.
“Failure to expose them to a wide range of different experiences in this early period means that they often struggle to deal with new situations later on.”
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “This research overwhelmingly shows that putting in the hard miles at the beginning, when it comes to early socialisation and exposure to new experiences, will reap rewards in terms of a dog’s future behaviour and state of mind.
“We trialled the Puppy Socialisation Plan amongst some of our Kennel Club Assured Breeders and both breeders and dog owners who have used it have said that they’ve never had such calm or well-adjusted dogs.
“We urge breeders and puppy owners to use the plan so that dogs are happier and more obedient, which will solve lots of problems in the long run.”
Image courtesy of Mait Juriado, with thanks.