Dangerous Dogs: What's The Truth?

Dog attacks are on the rise and last year saw a record 10 fatalities from dog-related injuries in England and Wales. Charlotte Hawkins investigates what exactly is going on and how we can tackle Britain’s dangerous dogs.

In this week's episode we learn that hospital admission records in England show that since 1998 to now dog bites have more than doubled. 

Charlotte meets Carrie Ann who’s 3-year-old son Harry suffered a major injury when he was left with 60% of his upper lip missing after a dog attack last year. 

She says “I felt physically sick and the fact that Harry couldn't communicate with me, he was just making a murmuring sound. It was just like heartbreaking”

Carrie Ann goes on to say “You can never fully trust a dog. You've gotta be extra vigilant around dogs and children together.”

TONIGHT also speaks to Emma Whitfield who lost her 10-year-old son Jack Lis in an attack by an XL Bully dog in 2021. 

She says “I still kind of have the shock moments where I think I'm never gonna see him again. We plan things as a family and part of me thinks we still should be including Jack [...] I love that boy so much.”

Emma is campaigning for a complete overhaul of dog control law and recently travelled to Westminster to meet her local MP Wayne David, along with a wider group of cross party politicians and stakeholders concerned about Britain's dog bite problem.

Emma says “The changes I think need to be made are in regards to a dog's life from the very start to the end. I think there needs to be a lot more regulation around breeding and there should be proper ways to sell a dog or rehome a dog.”

Tackling the issues on the frontline are The Friends of Birkenhead Kennels. Charlotte visited them to learn more about the problems they face. 

Sarah who works at the kennels says “It's reaching breaking point. I don't think in the years I've worked here, I've seen so many dogs with various different issues come through to kennels.”

She goes on to say “We're seeing the stem from Covid when a lot of people are buying dogs on lockdown, they weren't training, they weren't socialising [….] so now fast forward a few years later The dog's gonna get bigger, they're gonna get more out of control.” 

TONIGHT also visits the University of Liverpool to learn how to stay safe around dogs. Here Professor Carri Westgarth and her team, with funding from the Dogs Trust, have developed a virtual reality dog called “DAVE” that demonstrates the ‘ladder of aggression’, which is the body language that dogs use to try to communicate that they are feeling anxious or threatened.

Carri says “You need to make sure that you understand those early signs that a dog may be feeling threatened and stressed. because you want to stop at that stage before the dog feels the need to actually bite someone.”


Dogs Trust



GOV website


Blue Cross




Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership


Merseyside Police