wp header logo 544

Why are there more dog attacks in summer? – BBC.com

The number of dog attacks tends to rise in hot weather – but why? As the school holidays begin, experts are warning people to be vigilant, with children under 14 most at risk.
They tend to come in spates, and statistics show there are more attacks over the summer months in the UK. On the one hand, it's easy to imagine dogs getting just as hot and bothered as people do – lashing out in the only way they know how.
According to the Dogs Trust, however, the rise is more likely down to our change in behaviour in warmer weather, rather than anything biological.
"There's no evidence to say there's a connection between dog attacks and hot weather," said the charity's Maria Murray. "But there's definitely a connection with more attacks on children during the summer.
"The children are at home a lot more and dogs get a bit more fed up of kids being around."
People also spend a lot more of our time outside, so the chances of coming in to contact with a dog is heightened.
"Children under 14 are the most likely to get bitten – that's because children might not be able to read their dogs," said Ms Murray. "There's also more opportunity to play with dogs in the garden, so these things can happen."
Statistics show almost 9,000 people went to hospital in 2022 with dog bites, a rise of more than 1,000 incidents on the previous year.
There has also been huge increase in dog ownership since the Covid-19 pandemic began, with an estimated 12 million dogs owned by families in the UK, up from nine million five years ago.
"With more dogs and more households having a dog, it's inevitable we're going to get more incidents," said Ms Murray.
In April this year, six people were hurt when two dogs began biting people near a primary school in Birmingham.
Simon Edge was among them and said he'd been left extremely wary since the attack.
"I was coming back from the dentist and walking home – two dogs came bounding towards me, I thought nothing of it at first," he said.
"Then one got in front of me, one behind and the next thing you know they've both got me in their teeth."
Barford Primary School had to be locked down for the safety of the children.
In an attack that lasted "about 80 seconds", Mr Edge was bitten four times.
He told the BBC he was lucky because he had been told a teenage girl got 42 separate injuries that day.
"We were right outside the primary school and I just thought, 'if the dogs can do that to me, what would they have done to a young infant'?" Mr Edge said.
He said he'd been left wary of big dogs when they passed him in the street and he was shocked to see increasing reports of attacks.
"It seems to be happening more and more. To be honest I don't know why they got rid of the dog licence, at least that made people accountable."
Although fatal dog attacks are rare, there have been five in the UK so far this year. There were nine in 2022 – more than the double the previous year.
A woman in her 70s was killed while sunbathing in her garden in Bedworth, Warwickshire, earlier this year.
Just two weeks ago there were two serious attacks in Worcester in the same day, with a boy of nine hurt along with three others.
It is possible that lockdown, and new dogs not being able to be socialised properly in those crucial first weeks, could still be having an effect.
"We know that aggression tends to be because dogs are worried about something and if they've not been able to be socialised early on then they are more likely to be worried around people," said Ms Murray.
Unscrupulous breeding is also on the rise, with growing instances of puppy smuggling; dogs brought over from Europe illegally for pet trade.
"It's a huge money-making opportunity, so people who don't have the right experience of bred dogs and even the eight-week window that a puppy is with the breeder is so important for that dog to be socialised in the same way," said Ms Murray.
"If you think about dogs from eastern Europe, chances are the first weeks of life are in a kennel environment, having seen nothing, and then transported for days on end in a tiny cage in the back of a van.
"It's not a great start and there's always going to be some problems."
The Dogs Trust suggests people wanting a dog should look to rescue centres first. If buying privately, then the advice is to fully research the breeder first – try to meet the parents of the puppy and know the temperament of the prospective pet first.
"You know that those puppies have had a really good experience in those first eight weeks of life."
As for helping to get the number of summer dog attacks down, Ms Murray urged owners to have "really good, close supervision – be present, watch out for the dog getting worried or a child getting over exuberant".
The charity is running workshops on child safety for parents, where people can watch live webinars for tips.
"There is no evidence at all that any particular breed of dog is likely to be more aggressive than another," Ms Murray said.
"A tiny dog can still do damage, can still scar a child, because a lot of the interactions are when children are hugging dogs or kissing dogs, so a lot of those injuries are facial as well.
"So we've got to be really careful."
Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Send your story ideas to: newsonline.westmidlands@bbc.co.uk
Worcester's events to mark the 80th anniversary will include a beacon being lit.
Izzy Bernice has been nominated for a national award for her work with her assistance dog, Jessie.
The owner of four events planned for the bank holiday weekend said they would not take place.
Birmingham Pride challenges the council to "find us a home" as the current site becomes unavailable.
Jeremy Maclean has set his sights on becoming world champion after winning his first Ironman event.
Copyright 2024 BBC. All rights reserved.  The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top