Belfast Telegraph

More than 900 people attacked by dogs last year

By Noel McAdam

More than 900 people were attacked by dogs last year across Northern Ireland, shocking new figures have revealed.

And the total only refers to attacks which have been investigated by local authorities — other cases may have been unreported or did not spark a formal probe.

The figures emerged after a number of vicious incidents in the last few days and come as new legislation on dangerous dogs is only months away from coming into force.

A young female PSNI officer had a second operation in less than 24 hours yesterday — believed to include plastic surgery — after being savaged by a Rottweiler in a house in north Belfast.

And a 13-year-old Armagh youth has received skin graft operations after being bitten on the leg by a bull terrier at the weekend. But attacks are happening at the rate of between two and three a day.

None of the province’s 26 council areas has escaped without at least a single attack, with the overall total standing at 909 in 2011.

The Newry and Mourne area is way out in front, however, with 157 overall — just over three every week — compared to 122 in the Belfast City Council area and Down which had 68.

North Down and Derry council areas have seen 60 apiece and Lisburn 51, though some council areas, Larne and Moyle, only had one.

North Down MLA Alex Easton said the figures raise questions.

“The fact that, on average, there were approximately 2.5 attacks per day last year will be a surprise to many people,” he said.

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