A RYE MAN has called for dog owners whose out of control animals attack people to feel the full weight of the law.
Michael Partridge, of Ferry Road, says he has been attacked by dogs on a number of occasions since moving to Rye and spent a year in pain after being seriously injured by a dog at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.
He said; “I have been attacked on several occasions by dogs when walking and cycling in the countryside. I have since given up my favourite hobbies because of the danger of being attacked by dogs.
“On one occasion I was attacked by three dogs off the lead in Tillingham Avenue. I was bitten on the hand which bled and I needed a tetanus injection. The owner was not interested and walked away as fast as possible. I met the same lady owner with her dogs a few months later on the cycle path to Winchelsea. The dogs attacked me again; whilst this time the owner ran away.
“On another occasion I was seriously injured by a dog off the lead in the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. I had a month of medical treatment, a year of pain and I am now very frightened of dogs.
“My wife and I were also attacked by a dog off the lead in Rye Cemetery.
“I have been attacked on several previous occasions in Tillingham Avenue and on the cycle paths around Rye and on the footpaths in Hastings Country Park. I never reported these previous incidents as no blood was drawn and I did not want to waste police time. However, after the injuries, I reported the dog attacks to the police, who were great. They said there is a growing problem of dog attacks in public places.
“Standards have slipped with dog owners feeling they do not need to use a lead to control their dogs when meeting people in public places and they do not fear prosecution. Police told me the dog owners are rarely identified but in my case, following some excellent effort by the officers, they were successful in identifying the owners in two of the four attacks that I reported.
“The dog attack that resulted in serious injuries led to a prosecution. However, I feel that the Criminal Prosecution Service let the public, the police, the NHS and myself down.
“The police charged the owner with allowing the dog to be ‘dangerously out of control in a public place and cause injury’.
“There were photographs of my injuries and the owner admitted their dog had carried out the attack. However, I was not asked to attend the hearing and the letter informing me of the court hearing made it clear that my presence was not wanted. The dog owner attended with a lawyer. The original charge was changed to only “dog not under proper control” to avoid the case being transferred from a Magistrates Court to the Crown Court.
“Consequently the owner was only required to pay the court costs. The court did not ask the owner to pay the very considerable costs to the NHS and the Police which would have been many times the court costs. I was not awarded compensation for my time off work or pain and suffering. If the sentence had covered these items and made the dog owner responsible for her inconsiderate and negligent behaviour, it might have served as a deterrent and delivered justice.
“In justifying the impunity, the District Crown Prosecutor stated that “The dog owner was of good character”, despite the fact that the male owner’s initial response immediately after the attack was to threaten me, whilst the female owner verbally abused me. Neither owner showed any remorse at any time.
“Following further letters of complaint the decision to downgrade the charge as not “dangerous” was then justified because “the dog was not known to be vicious, the attack was not instigated by the owner and you were not subjected to prolonged mauling or injuries to your face, vital organs or several limbs, as is regrettably sometimes the case”. It seems that if you receive horrific injuries to only one leg then the dog is not considered to have been “dangerously” out of control!
“Although I welcome the decision to have dogs microchipped it will be necessary to detain the attacking dog for this to be useful. Very few people will chase after the dog that bit them and hold it until the police arrive.
“As the victim of a serious dog attack I agree with the Police that all that is needed is that dog owners be required to put their dogs on a short lead when meeting people in public. Many dog owners do this but some do not. If an incident occurs the dog owner ought to be held fully responsible for all the consequences of the attack. This should include paying for NHS and police services.