A MOTHER whose daughter was killed by a rottweiler has called for Scotland’s laws on the control of dangerous dogs to be tightened still further after a schoolboy sustained serious facial injuries in an attack by a Japanese Akita.
The 11-year-old boy, who has not been named, was taken by ambulance for treatment to the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital after being badly mauled by the powerful dog at a house in Inverurie on Thursday. The dog was later put down.
There have been at least three similar attacks on children by Japanese Akitas in Scotland and England over the past two years.
The boy is understood to have been at a friend’s home when the attack took place in the Aberdeenshire town’s Westburn Drive.
Veronica Lynch, from Dundee, lost her 11-year-old daughter Kellie in 1989 when she was savaged to death by two rottweilers while holidaying in Argyll. She played a leading role in the campaign which led to the introduction of the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991 and the banning of four specific breeds – the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Braziliero.
But Mrs Lynch said last night that, at the very least, all powerful dogs should now be muzzled to protect children from the threat of attack.
She said: “When our daughter Kellie died in 1989 I campaigned vigorously to have the laws changed to try to protect children. At the time, they included dogs like the Japanese Tosa on the banned list, but they ignored so many other big and powerful breeds which are capable of doing a tremendous amount of damage, including rottweillers.
“The attacks just go on and on and the majority of the victims are children. The current law is laughable.”
Mrs Lynch claimed that the reforms introduced in Scotland a year ago under the Control of Dogs Act – targeting the deed not the breed and giving councils new powers to crack down on dangerous dogs and their owners – did not go far enough.
She said: “These are measures which can be taken after a dog has been found to be dangerous or dangerously out of control. There is absolutely nothing in place to prevent attacks in the first place. The only thing that is going to prevent that happening is to have all dogs muzzled – at least in public places.”
Christine Grahame, the SNP MSP who spearheaded the legislation for the new Control of Dogs Act in the Scottish Parliament, said: “Obviously I am not satisfied if there has been another incident.”
But she stressed: “The whole issue of the Control of Dogs Act is that it is intervention much, much earlier than that (an attack).
“I would be very interested to know if this dog has shown any aggressive tendencies before, because that is where the Control of Dogs Act comes in.”
Asked if Japanese Akitas should be banned, she replied: “It sounds like a really good idea. The difficulty is that people who deliberately want to avoid the legislation can cross-breed, and then the legislation wouldn’t apply.”
Chris Mclean, secretary of the Akita Club of Scotland, defended the breed’s reputation. She said: “In the right hands the dogs are absolutely perfect. I have had these dogs for about 20 years and I have never had any dog bite anybody. It depends on the owner and it depends how they train the dog.
“These dogs go to dog shows every week and there is never any trouble But, like any breed of big dog in the wrong hands, it’s the dog that gets the blame when it’s the owner that’s at fault.”
A spokeswoman for Grampian Police said the attack was still being investigated.
She said: “Grampian Police is making inquiries into an incident where an 11-year-old boy was attacked by a dog at an address in Inverurie.”
BRED TO HUNT
JAPANESE Akitas are large, powerful, dominant dogs, with the male weighing up to 130lb. Experts say they are not recommended for first-time owners.
They are not prohibited under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, but are listed in fourth position out of ten breeds in the UK for causing serious injury to children.
They are regarded as independent animals, aloof with strangers but affectionate towards their owners. They were not bred as group animals and usually take a dominant role. Unless they have been highly socialised, they are not not considered suitable for being off the leash in public places.
Japanese history describes the breed’s ancestors as being the Matagi, whose quarry included the Asian black bear and wild boar. During the Second World War they were bred with German Shepherds to save them from a cull of all non-military dogs. US servicemen are credited with importing them home after the war.