MORE than 10 people a day are admitted to hospital after being bitten or attacked by an animal, according to figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives.
Almost three-quarters of the 10,953 incidents which happened over the past three years were caused by dog bites, highlighting what the party said was “the problem of dangerous dogs being bred across Scotland”.
The statistics, released under Freedom of Information legislation, show that various animals were responsible for hospitalisations across the country.
As well as the 7,731 dog attacks since 2012, one individual was said to have been hospitalised in the Grampian area last year after an altercation with “a crocodile or alligator”.
In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, over the past three years, 41 people were sent to hospital after being bitten by a rat.
Elsewhere, in the Highlands, two over 65s were bitten by venomous spiders and two people in Shetland were hospitalised by cats.
The Greater Glasgow and Clyde area accounted for by far the most incidents, 7,643 in total over the last three years. There were 1,273 incidents in Tayside and 541 in the Lothians.
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Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Of course some of these incidents set out will have been the result of an accident or some kind of freak occurrence.
“However, the sheer scale of hospitalisations after a dog bite points to a much wider problem.
“If we don’t get on top of the number of farms breeding these animals illegally, and the increase in people owning them who clearly aren’t up to the job, this problem is just going to get worse.
“There will be other statistics within this that also cause concern, not least those people being hospitalised after an encounter with a rat.
“It’s important the Scottish Government takes serious action on dangerous dogs, otherwise it will risk it becoming a genuine safety fear across the country.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is essential that dog owners fully appreciate their responsibilities for the welfare of their dog and the safety of themselves, their families and the general public, and there are long-standing laws in place to help protect members of the public from dangerous dogs.
“The recently published response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on responsible dog ownership has highlighted proposed measures to strengthen legislation in this area, including microchipping, which are currently under consideration by ministers.
“We are pleased that local authorities are making increased use of their powers under the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act to impose dog control notices on owners that allow their dogs to be out of control.
“Recent figures show the number of dog control notices imposed in 2013/14 was 244, which is the highest annual figure since the Act came into force in February 2011. In addition, over 2,500 investigations were carried out in 2013/14 by local authorities.”
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