Dog attacks in cities on the rise
Dog attacks in cities are on the rise as recent reports show that people are more likely to be bitten by a dangerous pet dog in a busy city than anywhere else. These findings are related to the gang culture which gravitates towards the centres of the UK’s cities.
Gangs often keep pet dogs as the gang pet and use them threateningly to try to intimidate other gangs or other members of the public. Dog attacks happening in cities are obviously not always associated with gangs, though it is the cause of the heightened likelihood of getting bitten in a city.
Serious dog attacks have the potential to happen in any given situation, at any time, causing a great amount of grief for both the victim and the victim’s friends and family. In recent years, there has been a rise in dog attacks in cities, in particular, London. This is widely believed to be due to a rise in a new gang trend, where illegal or semi-illegal breeds are used as a status symbol amongst rivals and peers. These dog attacks are not always deliberate, though could have been prevented if the owners had treated their dog responsibly.
In general, dog attacks seem to fall into three different categories: purposeful dog attacks (that is, the owner of the dog appears to have trained and instructed their pet to attack another human being), precedential dog attacks (that is, the attack could have been predicted judging from the circumstances and treatment the owner provides the dog with) and unprecedented dog attacks (that is, where the outcome of the dog attack would have been difficult if not impossible to predict). A majority of dog attacks in London tend to display qualities from the former two categories. This tells us two things; that the use of dogs as fighting tools or scare tactics is rising in London; that illegal or semi-illegal breeds of dog (for example, pit-bull mixed breeds) are becoming more popular within certain London cultures.
In January 2010 in South East London, a 34 year old man was attacked by a pit-bull mix-breed while he was on his way back from work. He sustained serious injuries on both the upper and lower right leg, which left him in hospital for four days. After the dog attack occurred, reports surfaced that onlookers had witnessed a gang of four hooded youths fleeing the scene, apparently one of them being the owner of the dog. Using new technologies, police were able to trace the owner of the pit-bull mix-breed; he was put to trial and charged under the current dog attack laws. This type of attack falls into the second category of dog attacks: precedential dog attacks. The dog was not actively instructed to attack the victim on his way back from work. However, the part pit-bull breed (a breed widely known for vicious and dangerous behaviour) was not on kept on its lead in a heavily pedestrianised area by its owner. In addition, later reports surfaced that local residents had often witnessed a gang of hooded youths mistreating a dog of a similar description. Accounts of a dog being kicked and tied up by a chain to a lamppost were reported. This type of negligent behaviour clearly contributed to the making of an aggressive, dangerous dog, something which could have been prevented had the owner treated the dog responsibly.
In May 2010, a similar occurred in Brixton, South London, where a 23 year old woman was attacked by a Rottweiler belonging to its owner who lived in the flat above her. The dog attack victim arrived home after a late work shift to find extremely loud music blaring from the flat above her. As she made her way down the stairs to her own flat, after repeatedly knocking on her neighbour’s door to ask him to turn the music down, she found that she was chased by an aggressive Rottweiler – thrown out of her neighbour’s flat in order to follow her. Before managing to lock herself into her own flat, the woman sustained serious hand injuries. Her neighbour was arrested by the police and charged. The dog attack victim in this case, a nurse, gained compensation for emotional trauma and work missed due to the injuries sustained in the attack. It later emerged that people had previously witnessed the Rottweiler owner ‘bragging’ about his ‘scary’ dog in the local area, often threatening to let it off its lead for ‘fun’. This dog attack in this case falls under the category of a purposeful dog attack; the owner fully intended to set his dangerous dog upon his neighbour.
These case studies are just two examples of how dangerous dogs are being utilised by owners to act as a threat to other members of the public. It is important for individuals to remain vigilant against dog attacks and also to seek the appropriate legal advice following any dog attack.