Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us Click here for details »
Is it time for dog owners to have official training?
A FORMER military dog handler has called for intense training courses for owners after a spate of dog attacks.
Keith Dukeson, who served with the RAF for more than 20 years, spoke out after the Echo’s coverage of a series of alarming dog attacks on other dogs in recent weeks.
He said: “I think they should bring in a compulsory responsible dog owners’ course before people get a dog. Owners would then get a licence after it is completed.
“I also think all dogs should be microchipped. It all sounds a bit nanny state, but it’s ths sort of thing that might prevent kiddies being bitten.”
Mr Dukeson also feels there needs to be better enforcement of dog control orders introduced by Southend Council.
These say dogs must be kept on a lead in pedestrian areas, roads, formal gardens, cemeteries, churchyards, bowling greens and car parks. Anyone who contravenes such an order should be given an £80 fine.
There are also issues with the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 as it means police often do not record dog attacks on other dogs as a crime.
It requires a dog to be “dangerously out of control”, making a human fear for their safety, to be classed as an offence.
Mr Dukeson, 53, a professional dog trainer in Southend, said: “There needs to be a meeting between the police and the local authority, so the bobbies out on the beat have got a format they can work to.”
Insp Matt Bennett, of Southend police, explained there were restraints in the law with dog attacks on other dogs.
He said: “If the person is in fear of attack, then the offence is complete. That fear has to be reasonable.”
The only other option for the police is to arrest the dog owner for criminal damage – but they must prove they either intended the attack to happen or were reckless.
Police have also launched a DogWatch scheme to help encourage responsible dog ownership, as a preventative measure.
However, Val Howells, Southend Council’s animal warden, stressed that dog attacks were a matter for the police.
She insisted: “Any incident involving a dog which is dangerously out of control in a public place is covered by the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and is a matter for the police.”