Youngster savaged by dog

THIS is what happened to four-year-year Reece Langgaard when he looked at a dog in a neighbouring garden . . . and police say there's no action they can take!

THIS is what happened to four-year-year Reece Langgaard when he looked at a dog in a neighbouring garden . . . and police say there's no action they can take!

Dog lover Reece, of Shackleton Road in Ipswich jumped up on some garden furniture to have a look at the dog that lives in the garden that backs on to his when the four-year-old Wiemaraner lunged at him and bit his right cheek.

After being discharged from Ipswich Hospital yesterday morning Reece said: “I don't want to go out in the garden anymore. It attacked me. I won't go out there again. It might happen again.”

Yet police say that because the incident happened on private property it is not covered by the dangerous dogs act - which only applies to dogs that are out of control in public.

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A Suffolk police spokeswoman said officers are unable to take any action as the dog was in a private place, within its own boundaries.

“If the dog had jumped into the boy's garden there would have been an offence of failing to keep a dog under control. But because the dog was in its own garden, current legislation states there is no offence.”

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In the past other legislation has been used to deal with very serious incidents.

A woman whose granddaughter was mauled to death in her home in St Helens in 2007 was charged with manslaughter because of failure in a duty of care, but not under the dangerous dogs act. She was subsequently cleared at her trial.

Andy Robins, RSPCA spokesman said although they cannot comment on individual cases they would generally like to see more emphasis put on responsible dog ownership.

Currently the law deals with irresponsible owners when a dog attacks in a public area, so in a private garden police cannot do anything.

Mr Robins said: “It would be nice to see this issue of public and private areas cleared up, so we don't have more grey area cases like this one.

“A 10 minute bill is due to come up in parliament in the near future dealing with this very subject.

“If a dog is out of control then full stop the owners should be held responsible for it at all times. We are keen to see better legislation.”

The owners of the dog were not available to comment, but neighbour Hazel Bagley said she was not worried about it when her grandchildren visited and played in her garden.

There are notices at the front of the house warning callers about the dog.

REECE'S mum Kate Langgaard, 31, said she was cleaning inside when she heard an “almighty” scream at about 11.45am on Saturday morning.

“He just came running down the garden,” she said. “His cheek was practically hanging off; I didn't know what had happened at first.

“I must have screamed the whole street down. It was only when James managed to calm him down that we realised a dog had attacked him. I am just glad he didn't get dragged over the fence.”

Step-dad James Mallett, 22, was asleep in the house when he was awoken by screams from Miss Langgaard and Reece.

“I could hear her screaming it was one of those screams where you could hear the sheer fear,” he said. “When I came into the living room I couldn't believe it, I was so shocked. I didn't want to look at him and I didn't want Kate to have to see that.

“Part of his nose was hanging off and his right cheek was gaping open and hanging down.”

After making an emergency 999 call, Miss Langgaard accompanied her four-year-old son in the ambulance to Ipswich Hospital where he was taken into theatre within an hour for a two-hour operation to repair his face.

Mr Mallett said: “When the paramedics first saw Reece they were visibly shocked and the nurses at the hospital were taken aback too.”

Doctors treating her son have warned Miss Langgaard that he is likely to have a scar the length of the stitches when they are removed next Monday.

A member of the surgical team who operated on Reece said: “It was a very nasty wound”.

There is the chance that nerves in his face have also been damaged but the full extent of any nerve damage is unlikely to be known until the wound has healed further. If nerves have been damaged it could result in the four-year-old being unable to move parts of his face.

“He will be scarred for life, after they stitched him up he was so swollen,” Miss Langgaard added. “He has got a dimple on his right cheek, the opposite cheek to mine, and I just hope he hasn't lost it.

“He has been so brave, he has hardly cried, I have cried more than him. I didn't know I could scream like that,” she added.

“He loved dogs and now I am worried he will be frightened next time he sees one.

“The owners came round straight away and I couldn't help but scream at them I was so upset.”

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