A BARTON couple whose dog was killed when it was savaged by a lurcher have backed a national campaign to make such attacks a criminal offence where there is neglect by the owner.
Wendy and John Cummings were left “absolutely devastated” when their pet, Jack, was mauled while being taken for a walk along Sea Road six weeks ago.
They have now added their support to a campaign by a fellow dog owner whose own pet was killed in a similar incident.
Gaye Fisher (70) from south London, lost her Jack Russell poodle cross, Brody, when it was attacked by a Japanese Akita while her husband Peter (79) was walking him in a park last May.
She has now launched Justice for Brody after learning that police are powerless to take any action against the owner of a dog that has killed or injured another because it is not a criminal offence.
Mrs Fisher told the A&T: “It is an offence for a dog to attack a person but not to attack another animal, unless it comes under the Dangerous Dogs act, even if there was neglect on the part of the owner.
“I think that is totally wrong. The scale of this kind of incident is huge; one pet insurance company carried out research which revealed a figure of 60,000 dog-on-dog attacks a year.
“I am now receiving reports of savagings two or three times a day. It’s an epidemic and it is happening everywhere.”
Mrs Fisher has set up a Facebook page which collates details of such attacks all over the country. She has also started a petition calling for the government to make attacks a criminal offence, which has already attracted 10,000 signatures.
She claims the government and local councils “don’t seem to care” about the problem, adding: “They just seem to want to ignore it. But the effect on people who have seen their pet mauled to death, or at the least seriously injured, can be appalling.
“My own husband cried for days and even now finds it hard to talk about. He is suffering PTSD from watching our beloved dog mauled to death in front of him. He was covered in blood – it was just horrific.”
Her own dog was not on a lead when it was savaged; the Akita was but managed to slip it and went for Brody.
Mrs Fisher said apart from the emotional cost to people whose pet is attacked, there is the cost of vet bills, some of which can run into thousands of pounds.
She said: “In a lot of cases, owners of the dogs responsible literally run off, some without even stopping to see how the other animal is. It’s like a hit-and-run car accident.
“Brody was so badly injured we had to have him put to sleep and the vet’s bill was £500, but it still hasn’t been paid. I was lucky enough to get the owner of the other dog’s phone number but they haven’t paid the bill yet.”
Mr and Mrs Cummings have had their bill for Jack’s treatment, which involved an operation, settled by the owner of the lurcher. However, they are yet to receive an apology.
An angry Mrs Cummings, who was injured herself while trying to save Jack, said: “I find it absolutely abhorrent that we have not had a simple apology. We are suffering so badly.
“We adored Jack. He was such a huge part of our lives and we miss him so much. I’m still in a lot of pain; we are totally, totally heartbroken.”
Mrs Cummings said she backed Mrs Fisher’s campaign, adding: “I think it would act as a preventative measure because it would mean people who knew, or were worried, that their dog was aggressive would have to take the appropriate action like muzzling it, or always keeping it on a lead.
“I think it would make dog owners like me feel a bit safer.”
The lurcher that attacked Jack, a Bichon poodle cross that had been owned by Mr and Mrs Cummings for eight years, went on to attack another dog further along the road which is still recovering from its injuries.
According to its owner, the lurcher had escaped from its home. It was destroyed after the local dog warden investigated the incident.
But Mrs Fisher points out that there is no way of forcing a dog owner to have their pet put down after it has attacked another pet unless it is found to come under the Dangerous Dogs act.
She told the A&T: “If it doesn’t, the police basically can’t do anything, it’s just down to the local dog warden to investigate. In our case the dog was assessed as to whether it was dangerous and when it wasn’t, it went back to the owner.
“I hear of cases like what happened to Mr and Mrs Cummings every day, and my heart goes out to them, but no one in government seems to want to help people like them, or us.”
To find out more about Mrs Fisher’s campaign, search for ‘Justice for Brody & Companion Dogs’ on Facebook.