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Mum Calls For Tougher Regulations As Son Scarred For Life By Dog Attack

Government Proposals To Protect Victims Should Be Introduced Sooner, Expert Lawyers Warn


The mother of a 15-year-old boy who has been emotionally and physically scarred for life after being attacked by a Jack Russell has joined forces with specialist lawyers to call for tougher dog regulations following the tragic death of a teenager in Greater Manchester.

Harrison Gowland, of Windsor in Berkshire, will be scarred for life and still needs therapy to help him come to terms with the incident in which he was bitten on the leg by a dog as he walked along the high street in Windsor with his mum when he was just 12-years-old.

The animal, which is not one of the breeds on the Government’s dangerous dogs list, had to be pulled off Harrison by his mum in a completely unprovoked attack.

Following the recent death of 14-year-old Jade Anderson, who was killed when she was mauled by a pack of dogs in Atherton, near Wigan in Greater Manchester, Harrison has joined forces with lawyers from Irwin Mitchell who have repeatedly called for the Government to take tougher action on irresponsible dog owners.

The Gowland family and Irwin Mitchell are calling for the Government to bring forward plans for new laws due to be introduced in 2016 for all puppies to be micro-chipped and to introduce a new criminal offence for people allowing dogs to be out of control on private property.

According to figures from the NHS, more than 6000 adults and children were admitted to hospitals over the year to March 2011, after being ‘bitten or struck by a dog.’ The statistics also show six children and two adults have been killed since 2006.

Kathryn Baines, a lawyer from Irwin Mitchell who specialises in helping people injured in dog attacks is representing Susan and Harrison in their own battle for justice after the dog owner admitted responsibility for the incident. Irwin Mitchell will now be seeking funds to allow Harrison to continue to get access to the therapy he needs to come to terms with the attack.

Kathryn said: “Dog bites can have a huge impact on so many people’s lives and attacks like the one Harrison endured can leave victims with the emotional and physical scars from which they never fully recover.

“Hospital admissions in relation to dog bites are on the rise, which show that new measures are needed to address this issue and provide better protection to the general public, whether the animal is on the dangerous dog list or not.

“The Dog Control and Welfare Report produced by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee earlier this year has already stated that current plans on the issue are woefully inadequate and changes are urgently needed to deal with irresponsible owners.

“We welcome proposals for compulsory micro-chipping for all puppies and for attacks on private property to also become a criminal offence, as it is already in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but we feel the Government’s plans need to go one step further to ensure insurance is compulsory for all owners.

“We want the Government to put a system in place to not only reduce attacks but which also guarantees that people injured in such incidents can get access to the support and rehabilitation they need provided by proper insurance.”

Harrison was out shopping with his mum in July 2010 in Windsor town centre when the dog, which was unaccompanied by its owner and wasn’t muzzled, lunged at Harrison and attacked him.

The teenager’s mum had to shake the dog to make it release Harrison’s leg. He suffered a bite to his leg and was taken to Wrexham Park Hospital for treatment. He now has three, three-inch scars on this leg which mirrors the shape of the dogs’ jaw.

His injuries took six weeks to heal and his grades suffered at school. He will be scarred for life and two-and-a-half years on he is still receiving therapy to come to terms with the psychological trauma he suffered. The owner of the dog was not prosecuted.
His mum Susan, 43, said it was the most frightening experience of both their lives.

“Tougher regulations for dangerous dogs are something I feel really strongly about after seeing Harrison attacked. The dog which bit Harrison isn’t even classified as a dangerous dog, so it’s frightening to think what damage a larger, stronger animal could do,” she said.

“It was an incredibly frightening and painful experience for Harrison to go through and it still affects him now. He crosses the road when he sees any dogs now. Something like this never leaves you and I still feel really upset when I think about how helpless I felt because I couldn’t get the dog off him.

“There was no warning it was about to attack - it just lunged at Harrison and then went berserk. I had to shake it off his leg and even then it carried on lashing out and tried to bite its owner.

“To think he is scarred for life because of a dog which wasn’t properly restrained or accompanied by its owner is just awful but it could have been so much worse, as other tragic and high profile cases have recently shown.

“I would definitely encourage the Government to take into account how passionately families like mine feel about dangerous dogs so they bring in legislation that holds irresponsible owners to account.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise related to Dog Bite Claims.