South Shields woman’s bid to have dog attack law changed

Carol Coxon with her dogs from left Georgie and Bentley
Carol Coxon with her dogs from left Georgie and Bentley

A dog control campaigner from South Tyneside is taking her fight for tougher laws to Parliament – by winning the support of the country’s MPs.

Carol Coxon, 44, has written to all 650 parliamentarians to urge them to back her bid for a House of Commons debate on changing the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act.

Marion Barras with dog Ollie after he was attacked by another dog in North Marine Park

Marion Barras with dog Ollie after he was attacked by another dog in North Marine Park

She wants them to modify a law which gives protection from dog-on-dog attack only to animals such as guide dogs – and not to family pets.

To win her battle to have the issue heard nationally, Mrs Coxon, of Beach Road, South Shields, must first gain the support of over half the House.

The businesswoman believes that is possible due to a groundswell of existing support, including that of her MP, Emma Lewell-Buck.

Mrs Coxon’s fight stems from her friend Marion Barras’ pet Yorkshire Terrier Ollie being savaged close to South Shields’ North Marine Park in February.

She said: “I am hopeful that enough support can be gained so that an Early Day Motion, which allows MPs to discuss issues of importance to them, will be granted.

“I have emailed all 650 MPs and it would be nice to think that I will get a good response.

“There are a growing number of MPs through initiatives like mine who are starting to support a change in the law, including Emma Lewell-Buck.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck is one of 33 cross party MPs to have signed an Early Day Motion, tabled in January, calling for the law to be updated.

She has previously pledged to lobby Home Secretary Sajid Javid for changes to UK dog laws in the wake of the attack on six-year-old Ollie.

The dog was left with serious bite injuries to his neck – and Mrs Barras with a near £1,000 vets’ bill – after being attacked by a stray.

The Labour MP has also said she would support Mrs Coxon’s efforts to persuade South Tyneside Council to set up a facility in which owners can report dog-on-dog attacks.

Mrs Coxon has accused the council of being toothless by failing to properly support owners whose dogs are attacked by other pooches.

Through a Freedom of Information request, she has discovered there were seven reported dog attacks in the borough in the past year – and one on a human.

Mrs Coxon claims the low level of recorded incidents is an indication of how difficult the public find it to make reports.

The council said ways to report a dog attack to its environmental health team, and guidance around strays, are available on its website.

A spokesman added: “A full response outlining the council’s current position has already been provided to Ms Coxon from our Environmental Health Service.

“As stated, the council already receives and records reports of dog on dog attacks.

“We understand that Ms Coxon has contacted her MP about seeking a legislative change to deal with the issues raised and we believe this is the most appropriate approach.”