The vast majority of dog attacks on humans occur at home and involve family pets; nonetheless, the Council in Londonderry is warning that the summer months are traditionally marked by an upsurge.
Of the people who get bitten, 70 per cent of dog bites happen in the home, and 80 per cent are bitten by dogs that they regularly meet.
But the Council wants dog owners to be responsible and stop they’re pets from straying and excreting all over the city.
“It is recognised that dogs can easily wander off and become lost, or escape through doors and fences when no one is watching.
“The genuine loss of a dog can be a traumatic experience for both the owner and the pet.
“Unfortunately in the majority of cases, straying is due to irresponsible dog owners knowingly letting their dogs out to self-exercise and toilet themselves.
“Stray dogs can be a hazard on the road. Many are killed or injured in road accidents.
“Dogs may scare people, especially children, cause a hazard to traffic, indiscriminately foul in public places and can on occasions attack people, livestock or domestic pets,” a spokesperson said.
Mark Hegarty. Enforcement Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said the summer months traditionally see an increase in dog attacks and it’s important that dog owners take the right precautions with their pets to ensure children are kept safe at all times.
He explained: “It’s important that children are taught the basics about how to behave around dogs and to be alert to any potential issues that may result in an attack.”
He said that dogs will only bite when they are protecting themselves or their property, if they are in pain or feel trapped and threatened.
“Sometimes dogs attack if they are over excited or are taken by surprise. It is vitally important that parents teach children how to behave around dogs and encourage them to be calm, quiet and move slowly around them and not to approach the animal when he is eating, playing with a toy, is sleeping or is sick or injured,” he added.
Enda Cummins, Principal Environmental Health Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said the Council felt it was important to encourage dog owners to take a responsible approach to dog ownership, particularly over the summer months.
“We are a nation of animal lovers and of dogs in particular but we feel it’s important that children understand how to behave around dogs in their home and in their community so we can all enjoy their company and remain safe, particularly over the summer season. To help us do this we would encourage dog owners to establish house rules and to stick to those rules and to ensure children are always supervised when around dogs.
“Derry City and Strabane District Council has a Responsible Dog Ownership Strategy that offers advice and assistance to dog owners across the Council area that will help benefit the entire community,” he concluded.