MP calls for tougher dog laws after schoolgirl savaged in Sunderland park

Meghan Reynolds was savaged by a dog in Herrington  Country Park and had to have 48 stitches.
Meghan Reynolds was savaged by a dog in Herrington Country Park and had to have 48 stitches.
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POLITICIANS are being urged to back calls for tougher dangerous dog laws after a schoolgirl was savaged as she played in a park.

As revealed in the Echo, Meghan Reynolds was mauled by a German shepherd in Herrington Country Park.

Washington MP Sharon Hodgson is behind a campaign for tougher dangerous dog laws following an attack on Sunderland schoolgirl Meghan Reynolds.

Washington MP Sharon Hodgson is behind a campaign for tougher dangerous dog laws following an attack on Sunderland schoolgirl Meghan Reynolds.

The 13-year-old is recovering after four hours of surgery, which left her needing 48 stitches in facial wounds.

Now Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has joined a group of Labour MPs in urging the scope of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to be extended.

She has already won backing from Meghan’s family.

Mum Carol, 38, of Gardiner Road, Grindon, and grandfather George Reynolds, 62, of Beech Square, Columbia, Washington, insist action is urgently needed.

Mr Reynolds said: “What happened to Meghan should never be allowed to happen to another child. When I saw how she was after she was rushed into hospital, I had to leave the cubicle and be physically sick.

“I don’t think people realise how devastating these attacks can be. The law should be a lot more strict.

“It’s crazy that these dogs can attack on private property and are not prosecuted.”

Mum-of-five Carol added: “I’m 100 per cent behind what Sharon and the other MPs are doing.

“I’m not at all against dogs but owners need to be aware of the danger they pose.

“Attacks such as Meghan’s seem to be becoming more frequent and something needs to be done. Meghan has been fantastic and is doing very well but it is still very early days.”

New Government plans would allow a prosecution to be brought against anyone whose dog injures someone or acts aggressively in a private place.

This includes somewhere they are permitted to be, such as a home. 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 in a place to which the public have access. And male dogs would be neutered, with owners and dogs compelled to attend and complete a training control course.

She said: “While it’s welcome that the Government are prepared to do something, their proposals don’t go far enough.

“Banning dogs from playgrounds does nothing to help posties and others who are attacked on private property or in the street.

“We need Dog Control Orders to ensure that proper safety precautions are taken by owners of dangerous dogs.

“Given the increasing number of reports of dog-on-human attacks, such as the one that little Meghan suffered, and the many dog-on-dog and other animal attacks, now is the time to take tough action. I hope Echo readers will get behind this campaign and that the Government will listen to our calls.”

Dog Control Orders already exist in Scotland and were last month recommended by the cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. Around a dozen MPs, led by Bolton West’s Julie Hilling, are collecting signatures.

The measures have been called for by the Labour Party during the passage of the Bill. Amendments will be tabled in Parliament next month.