Jailing dangerous dog owners would not stop attacks, says mum of mauled schoolgirl

Meghan Reynolds and her mum Carol Reynolds.
Meghan Reynolds and her mum Carol Reynolds.
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THE mum of a Wearside teenager savaged by a dog said plans to jail owners for longer if their pets attack don’t go far enough.

Meghan Reynolds, 13, needed 48 stitches in a four-hour operation on her face after being savaged by a German Shepherd in Sunderland’s Herrington Country Park.

Two months on, the Grindon youngster’s face is still scarred and partially paralysed and doctors don’t know if she will ever get the full feeling back.

Meghan’s mum, Carol, 38, has joined Washington and Sunderland West MP, Sharon Hodgson, in the fight for tougher dog control laws.

The Government this week put out to consultation proposals that could see the owners of killer dogs facing life in prison, rather than the current two-year maximum.

And 10 years in prison is the maximum term suggested for the owner of a dog injuring a person or killing an assistance dog.

Carol, of Gardiner Road, who is also mum to Connor, 17, Jack, 14, Michael, 11, and seven-year-old Jessica, said: “These moves are welcomed and it is a start, but a lot more needs to be done to prevent attacks and make owners more responsible for their animals.

“I am 100 per cent behind Sharon’s fight for more regulations.

“Meghan is quite well in herself now, but I think it is just beginning to dawn on her what she has been through and how badly she has been injured. If it had been a toddler in a pushchair, they could have been killed.”

Carol said Meghan, a pupil at Sandhill View School, has been incredibly brave and has even visited primary schools to talk to the young ones about being careful around dogs.

The new Government plans would also allow a prosecution to be brought against anyone whose dog injures someone or acts aggressively in a private place, even somewhere they are permitted to be.

Currently, the law only covers attacks in public places and private areas where animals are prohibited, such as a neighbour’s garden.

Mrs Hodgson wants dog control notices to be introduced which would compel owners to muzzle their animals in public. Her proposals would also see dogs put on a lead whenever they are in a place to which the public has access.

The MP said: “Tougher sentences for owners who allow their dogs to attack people would be welcome, but they don’t stop the attack happening in the first place. It would be little consolation for someone who loses a loved one or is scarred for life that the owner gets a couple more years in prison.

“The Government had an opportunity here to look at bringing in stronger preventative action such as Dog Control Notices, like they have in Scotland, and it’s really disappointing that they haven’t listened to the victims of dog attacks and thousands of people who’ve signed petitions calling for them.”