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Shop a Dog is News Shopper's campaign to bring justice to dog attacks victims and help prevent further attacks across south-east London and north Kent
News Shopper has been running a series of features on dangerous dogs to help make YOUR parks and neighbourhoods safer for everyone.
This week we bring you fresh news of a dog attack on a child and take a look back at our campaign.
A SIX-YEAR-OLD girl has undergone surgery after being savaged by a "large Staff type dog" near a children’s playground.
The youngster, who has not been named, suffered a one inch cut to the lip and lost some teeth when the animal bit her face on October 13.
She was taken to hospital following the attack at Heathfield Recreation Ground in Twickenham and was said to be in shock but in a stable condition.
Police have launched an investigation to find a man, believed to be the owner, who left with the dog shortly after.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Ward, of Richmond Police, said: "This was an unprovoked attack on a very young child.
“We are making extensive enquiries to trace the owner."
Mum-of-two Nicola Turner, of Arden Close, often uses the park.
She said: “The dog should be muzzled, especially with kids about.
“I am not worried about dogs and neither are my kids. They would go up to a dog and stroke it without any fear. They shouldn’t have to worry.”
The dog is described by police as "a large Staff type dog" with a large head and a short tan coloured coat.
Its owner is believed to be of Arabic appearance, in his late 30s, about 5ft 10ins, with dark hair and wearing a pale blue top.
Call police on 020 8247 7218 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
What we want
- Increase the sentence for owning a banned dog - in line with carrying a knife. The current banned types are: pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo Argentino and fila Braziliero.
- Extend the law to include dog attacks on private land - therefore protecting workers such as postmen and carers.
- Increase the prison sentences for owners convicted of allowing their dog to attack humans.
- Force all Staffordshire Bull Terriers to wear a muzzle in public.
- Simplify the court process so that banned dogs can be destroyed immediately.
Statistics from the NHS Information Centre
Figures show Sutton and Merton PCT had 73 admissions for people bitten or struck by a dog from May 2009 to April 2011 - the highest in London. While Harrow PCT had the least admissions with 12.
EDITOR'S COMMENT - RICHARD FIRTH
SPEAK to anyone in London and they will have a story about a dangerous dog. That’s why we launched this campaign.
Even during the few weeks it has been running, a six-year-old girl suffered serious facial injuries when she was savaged by a Staffordshire bull terrier in a Twickenham park and we’ve covered a court case in which a Staffie brutally attacked a pensioner after biting his dog.
Along the way, we have received some excellent support from our readers.
We’ve also had some constructive criticism from people who do not agree with our campaign and would like to see different measures taken. Our coverage has reflected all these views and we thank the people who have contributed.
Unfortunately, a minority of people chose instead to become abusive and aggressive towards staff at News Shopper for even daring to draw attention to the problem.
Like a doting mum who won’t accept her children are capable of misbehaviour, they will not discuss the issue of dangerous dogs. They defend their animals, even while children are being scarred for life by them.
A couple of people accused us of hating dogs - they either haven’t read the campaign or they’ve completely failed to understand the motives for it.
Some even went as far as to contact some of our advertisers to try to persuade them not to advertise with News Shopper while this campaign was going on.
Fortunately, our clients are more sensible than this handful of thoughtless individuals who would much rather attempt to abuse and intimidate than enter into a reasoned debate.
Our advertisers resisted similar pressure when another group of mindless individuals employed a similar tactic a few years ago.
Whatever the threat, you would not expect us to bow to pressure and we will continue to draw attention to issues like this.
The vast majority of our readers understand this and we thank them for joining what has been a fascinating, constructive debate.
Dog attacks dad
TWO brothers witnessed their pet dog turn on their dad in a sustained and bloody attack.
Steven and Jonathan Atkins were at their home in Palace View, Grove Park, on January 24 last year when one-year-old Buster, a pit bull-type breed, tried to bite 14-year-old Steven.
Their father John Atkins, 53, was attacked after intervening.
Jonathan, 16, said: “Buster must have got a taste for human blood and flesh - it just wouldn’t let go of my dad.
“Someone came in with a motorbike helmet and golf club and started bashing them over the dog’s head but it wouldn’t give up.”
He added: “The living room was like a murder scene. I was smothered in blood too."
Mr Atkins suffered fractures to his hands and arms.