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West Suffolk: Call to educate dog owners to stop serious attacks

13:25 05 February 2014

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds

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Experts have said many of the county’s dog owners require more education to prevent serious attacks and injury.

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The call comes as new figures reveal that nine people – including a two-year-old – were taken to West Suffolk Hospital’s emergency unit after being mauled by a dog in the last 12 months.

One 41-year-old was left with a fractured nose after a dog attack, while patients up to the age of 91 needed treatment for broken bones, torn skin and damage to ligaments.

Dog behaviourist, Joe Barnes, said it was important not to blame the animals for the incidents and said more education was needed to prevent further injuries rather than additional legislation to restrict particular breeds.

“The first thing to say is that it’s not the dogs’ fault,” he said. “We’ve got the Dangerous dog Act that picks out certain breeds and they thought they had cured the problem, which is absolutely ridiculous, because any dog can bite.”

He added: “You will find that a lot of people haven’t got any idea of how to treat a dog. They treat it like a human. But if you treat your dog as a human, it will treat you as a dog.”

Mr Barnes, whose Joe the Dog Man business is based in Braintree, but has worked all over west Suffolk, said most problems usually arise from approaching a dog at the wrong time, or forgetting that it is a pack animal.

He added: “The other thing is that people they baby their dog. They let the dog walk all over them and the dog becomes the leader and basically the leader does what it wants. A lot of people cuddle dogs. Not all dogs, but probably 75% of dogs, if you cuddle them they see it as a threat. That could set a dog off – it’s simple things like that, people just don’t realise.”

According to the data, which was released from West Suffolk Hospital, the two-year-old, who was injured in January last year, did not require a medical procedure.

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