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Jade parents urge tighter laws

Jade Anderson Photo: GMP
Shirley and Mike Anderson, the parents of Jade Anderson, at Westminster. Credit: PA

The parents of a teenage girl mauled to death by a pack of dogs in Greater Manchester have urged the Government to tighten the laws around dangerous animal ownership.

Shirley and Michael Anderson, the mother and stepfather of 14-year-old Jade Lomas Anderson, who died after being attacked in March, said the Government's Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill should be toughened "to prevent what we are going through from happening to other people".

After meeting Defra minister Lord de Mauley in Westminster they were "never going to be able to cope" with what happened but vowed to keep campaigning for law changes in her memory.

Mrs Anderson, 36, said: "It's hard isn't it, it's hard for us and hard for the kids.

"(We will) focus on this and make sure it doesn't happen again."

Mr Anderson, 34, added: "She would want us to help other people, that is what she was like."

Jade was alone at a friend's home in Chaucer Grove, Atherton, near Wigan in Greater Manchester, on March 26 when she was attacked by four dogs - believed to be two bull mastiffs and two Staffordshire bull terriers.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said at the time they could not prove a crime had been committed so were unlikely to make a prosecution, although he added that one may be brought in the future.

The dogs involved in the attack, which happened on private property, were not illegal breeds.

Describing the talks as "positive", the Andersons said that there should be more early intervention with owners and more help for councils and police forces to deal with potential problem animals.

Mr Anderson said: "It is (about) responsible dog ownership.

"As a dog owner you should be responsible for your dogs.

"If you have children coming to your house or regular exercising and integration (of dogs) into the family...there should be a dedicated organisation that goes around.

"A more hands-on approach can help, besides the council and the police.

"We are talking about saving lives. There is more campaigning to do, we are just not going to go away."

The Dangerous Dogs (Amendment) Bill aims to remove the immunity from prosecution of dog owners whose animal attacks someone on private property.

Under the plans for England and Wales, announced in February, a dog owner could be prosecuted if they fail to stop their dog attacking someone on their own, or someone else's property.

The Bill was designed to protect people who visit houses as part of their job, such as postal workers, utility staff and healthcare employees.

Bolton West Labour MP Julie Hilling accompanied Jade's parents to the meeting.

She said it went well but that they were "not 100% convinced" they would get what they want from the proposed legislation.

"The biggest issue we want are preventative measures, so we can actually have dog control notices or similar so there can be early intervention so people are helped to be responsible owners," she said.

"So we are not dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy but we are trying to prevent the tragedy from happening in the first place."

She added: "It (the bill) will be good for those people who come to the attention of the police and the authorities.

"But for many people whose dogs end up attacking people, they actually haven't come to the attention of the authorities in any other way apart from the fact that their dog is not being potentially well socialised and is a potential danger to the community.

"We need to make sure there is enough legislation in place for that early intervention, so action can be taken before a tragedy."

Lord de Mauley, the animal welfare minister, said: "My heart goes out to Jade Anderson's parents.

"Out of control dogs are just as much a threat on private property as in public places.

"We are extending the law so that owners who allow their dogs to be dangerously out of control anywhere can be brought to justice."