MP to push for new dog laws after attack in South Shields

Marion Barras with dog Ollie after he was attacked by another dog
Marion Barras with dog Ollie after he was attacked by another dog

South Shields’ MP Emma Lewell-Buck has vowed to lobby for changes to UK dog laws in the wake an attack that left a constituent’s pet badly injured.

The 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act has limitations around what constitutes an unlawful incident by one dog on another and Mrs Lewell-Buck she will also try to persuade South Tyneside Council to set up a facility in which owners can report dog on dog attacks.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck

Her backing for change follows an attack by a stray close to South Shields’ North Marine Park, on Saturday, February 2.

It left grandmother Marion Barras’ pet Yorkshire Terrier Ollie with serious bite injuries – and the retired home care worker with a near £1,000 vets’ bill.

Under current legislation only an attack by a dog on an assistance dog, such as a guide dog, is unlawful – but a number of MPs are calling for all dog on dog attacks to be outlawed.

Ms Lewell-Buck said: “I will write to the Home Office and the Secretary of State, and raise changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act in Parliament when I can.

“I will also write to the council to see if they can allow for such incidents to be reported, as some other councils do.

“If you are out and your dog is attacked, you don’t have anywhere to go. This attack in South Shields would have been traumatic.”

She recently met South Shields businesswoman Carol Coxon, 44, a friend of Mrs Barras and a campaigner for dog law changes.

Mrs Coxon said: “Emma has agreed to try to get a database of dog on dog attacks established.

“In South Tyneside, I also want the council to agree to put a link on its website so that dog on dog attacks can be logged and recorded.”

Legislation changes have also won the support of David Francis, 41, the Green Party’s local coordinator in South Tyneside.

He wants the council to create local laws that would compel dog on dog attacks to be officially recorded, and greater powers given to dog wardens.

Mr Francis said: “It is a national issue, but things can be done on a local level.

“The owner of the dog which was attacked in South Shields feels a little let down by the system - because it was a dog on dog attack, the incident wasn’t really pursued.

Ollie, a six-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, suffered serious bite wounds to its neck during an attack outside the North Marine Park on Saturday, February 2.

Mrs Barras, 76, a widow and retired home care worker, paid around £1,000 for emergency veterinary care.

She was warned Ollie may not survive, but he is now on the mend and has taken his first steps outside.

During the incident, she was sent tumbling as she tried to fight off the attack dog, and believes Ollie’s life was only saved by the intervention of a passer-by.

In response to Mr Francis’ local law change, South Tyneside Council said: “We can find no record of any communication from Mr Francis on this matter.”