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Family of Yorkshire man killed in dog attack backs calls for reform of dangerous dog laws

MPs have called for reform of the law on dangerous dogs. Credit: PA

The family of a man from West Yorkshire who was killed in a dog attack have welcomed calls for reform of the law on dangerous dogs.

A committee of MPs today released a report stating that current policy is "misguided" - as while laws introduced in 1991 outlawed certain breeds to protect the public, the number of deaths and injuries has continued to rise - most of them involving legal breeds.

Hospital admissions for dog attacks have increased by 81 per cent since 2005 and an "unacceptably high" number of victims suffer life-changing injuries, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee said.

David Ellam, from Huddersfield, died while to protect his own pet from a dog in August 2016. The dog was not a banned breed but was deemed to have been "dangerously out of control".

Its owner had earlier been given a dog control order following previous incidents, but he had failed to adhere to the conditions.

David Ellam was attacked by a dog near his home in Huddersfield. Credit: PA

We know that we can't bring our nephew back, but at least if something is done, we can stop it happening to other families. It hasn't just ruined our family, it has ruined his family as well.

– Elaine Berry, David Ellam's aunt

Harmless dogs are being destroyed because they are banned breeds and cannot be rehomed even if they are good-tempered, which EFRA committee chairman Neil Parish branded "cruel and illogical".

The ban on transferring animals of banned breeds to new owners, if they are deemed to be safe, should be lifted immediately, the committee's report said.

It also called for an independent review into the reasons for dog attacks and aggression, including whether banned breeds pose an inherently greater threat, and if not, the law should be changed.

The report found the Government should also undertake a comprehensive review of the laws and policy on dangerous dogs, while a new "dog control act" should be introduced to consolidate the existing patchwork of legislation.

The Government's current strategy for tackling dangerous dogs is well-intentioned but misguided.

Existing laws and the breed ban have not stemmed the rising tide of injuries and deaths from dog attacks.

– Neil Parish, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee chairman

Any dog can become dangerous if it is kept by irresponsible owners in the wrong environment, which is why the Act covers any type of dog that is dangerously out of control.

We will formally respond to this report in due course.

– Environment Department (Defra) spokesman