Dog attacks three times higher in deprived areas of England
The number of dog bites leading to hospital admission is three times higher among people living in the deprived areas study from Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has revealed.
According to the report, there were 6,743 hospital admissions specifically by dog attacks, a 5.8% increase from the 6,372 admissions last year.
The figures showed out of total 9,710 hospital admissions caused by dogs and other animals, 1,240 admissions were from most deprived areas of the country.
Merseyside recorded the highest number of incidents, with 24 out of 100,000 people admitted to hospital for dog strikes. Followed by Durham, Darlington and Tees and West Yorkshire with 22.8 and 21.7 per 100,000 injured respectively.
Kent and Medway had the lowest numbers with 5.3 per 100,000 people, followed by Surrey, Sussex and London.
Dr Simon Harding, a lecturer in criminology at the University of Middlesex and author of Unleashed: The Phenomena of Status Dogs and Weapons Dogs, said: “Deprived areas are often more populous with larger families, more children, more pets and more people living in closer proximity to each other and dogs. Also dogs tend to be exercised in public, rather than in gardens or remote fields. At the same time people in poorer areas use dogs for protection, instead of alarms or house insurance and there is an underlying trend towards the use of aggressive Pit Bull-type breeds as weapon or status dogs.”
The study also showed hospital admissions were highest during the summer months and main injuries from dogs were open wounds of wrists, hands, head and forearm.
HSCIC said majority of victims were young children under nine with head injuries followed by teenagers and adults with hand and wrist wounds.
Dr Harding said: “Plastic surgery was the most common treatment for all age groups.”
Luciana Berger, MP for Liverpool Wavertree, who has been campaigning for tighter controls on dangerous dogs after a four-year-old was killed by a pit bull terrier in 2009, said “the figures were alarming and showed the threat dangerous dogs pose.”
The MP has urged the government to “focus on prevention” and ensure that tragedies such as the death of four-year-old John Paul Massey are not repeated.
Despite calls for reform, the secretary of the Kennel Club, Caroline Kisko, has declined the appeal stating “further dog bans were not the answer and that better education of children was the way forward.”
Caroline said: “There is a danger of classifying dogs like pit bulls as the devil dogs. This is such a dangerous concept as it says to people that all the other types of dogs are safe, which is clearly untrue. All dogs can cause injury, just like we can, but it’s not to do with their breed.”
The HSCIC data also looks at injuries from other animal, such as horses, foxes, and cats. The numbers show there were 2,970 admissions for such cases, up from 2,700 from previous year. With Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly reporting the highest rate.
Photo: Aastha Gill