MP urges new laws on dangerous dogs.

Jade Anderson
Jade Anderson Photo: PA

The death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl near Wigan will be repeated elsewhere in the UK if tougher measures to curb dangerous dog attacks are not introduced, a North West Labour MP warned.

Julie Hilling paid tribute to Jade Lomas Anderson, who died on March 26 at a friend's house near Wigan after she was mauled by four dogs.

Ms Hilling told the Commons that One Direction fan Jade was a popular girl, considered to be the "life and soul" of family parties and always the first on the dance floor.

The Bolton West MP welcomed the Government's measures to prosecute attacks on private property and those against guide dogs, but said the proposals did not go far enough.

She said they should include enforcement officers being given more effective powers, such as dog control notices to prevent dog-related anti-social behaviour.

Ms Hilling said: "Jade is not the first case of dog attack to happen in my constituency and if the Government doesn't take action it will definitely not be the last.

"We need holistic legislation to deal with both dog welfare and dangerous dogs. They are inextricably linked.

"A well-trained, well-socialised and well-looked after dog is far less likely to be involved in an attack but we also need to educate people about both the care of and respect for dogs. Even the most well-mannered dog may behave differently around children."

She added: "If we don't take comprehensive action there will more Jades and more people's lives ruined by out of control dogs."

Earlier in the adjournment debate moved by Ms Hilling, she said there are around 210,000 dog attacks each year, 6,000 people admitted to hospital often with life-changing injuries and an average of 12 postal workers attacked each day.

She added the NHS spends #3 million treating victims of dog attacks each year and local authorities spend #57 million on putting the animals in kennels.

MPs also heard 15 people have died around the country as a result of dog attacks since 2005.

Ms Hilling said: "Since Jade's death there have been thousands of further attacks on people, including one on a child in Bolton who had her eyelid ripped away and has terrible marks under her eye. Fortunately the dog missed the eye altogether and her sight has been saved.

"This is not an insignificant problem. It's an issue that affects the quality of life for millions of people. It's an issue that deserves the full attention of Government with legislation that will really make a difference."

Responding for the Government, Defra Minister David Heath said: "There's nothing I can say or do this evening that will do anything to fill the void in the lives of the family and friends of Jade Lomas Anderson.

"The tragic circumstances of her death are I hope not to be repeated but something that ought to strike a chord in every member's mind as to whether we have the right legislation in place and what we can do."

Mr Heath said many MPs recognised the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 was "clearly inadequate" in many ways, was not seen to be fit-for-purpose and the Government has to fill some of the loopholes and gaps in the legislation.

He said: "We are giving police more powers to deal with attacks that happen on private property, a specific lacuna in the existing law, to protect the thousands of children, postal workers, health visitors, social care workers, other people that are attacked each year.

"And I think that's been widely welcomed by key bodies, such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Royal Mail, who recognise the dangers to their employees.

"The message from the Government is clear - owners must be responsible for their dog at all times and in all places."