Dog attacks led to more than 100 hospital stays in the Bradford area last year as new figures show that people living in poorer areas are more likely to have to go to hospital with canine-related injuries.
Research by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also reveals that outside of London, West Yorkshire had the highest number of hospitalisation due to injuries caused by dogs at 498. Of those, 104 were in the Bradford area. In 2012/13, the local figure was 105, and it was 110 in 2011/12.
And while the number of admissions has remained steady in Bradford year-on-year, across the region it increased from 464 in 2012/13.
Researchers at the health data service found that the rates of hospital admissions were three times higher for people from poor areas compared to their wealthier neighbours.
Out of every 100,000 people who live in the most deprived areas of England, there were 24 admissions to hospital because of a dog attack. Meanwhile, in the richest regions there were eight admissions for every 100,000 people. In West Yorkshire, there were 22 admissions for every 100,000 people – the third-highest rate in the country.
Chairman of the HSCIC Kingsley Manning said: “Today’s report shows that hospital admissions for bites and strikes by dogs are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least deprived areas. This is fascinating new data that we haven’t produced before.
“Our statistics also show that hospitals have dealt with more admissions for bites and strikes by mammals compared to last year.
“We know that dog-bite rates are particularly high among young children. As we head towards the summer months, when admission rates for dog bites are at their highest, these trends may be worth further study by healthcare organisations and public sector bodies.”
In 2006, the Telegraph & Argus started its Curb The Danger Dogs campaign calling on the Government to toughen up its Dangerous Dogs Act. Since then there have been some legal changes.
However, West Yorkshire Police said not all incidents would be reported.
Inspector Lorna Meredith, head of West Yorkshire Police Dog Section, said: “A high proportion of people bitten by dogs are bitten in a domestic situation, and often occur in the home involving family dogs or dogs they know.
“Those incidents where a person is bitten by an aggressive, unknown dog – if they are reported to the police – are dealt with robustly and can result in owners appearing in court.
“The problem of dangerous dogs still exists, and legislation has recently been revised to allow us to deal with incidents that occur on private property.
“It is important to realise that bites from all animals on humans are, in the main, low. Laws are in place to deal with these incidents should they occur. Many animal owners – and in particular dog owners – are responsible and care for their pets in a safe and lawful manner.”
Nationally, dog attacks led to 6,740 hospital stays – a six per cent rise from the previous year.
Children aged up to nine accounted for the highest number of admissions and the most common ailment was an injury to the wrist or hand.
The figures also suggested that the attacks were more common in the summer, the HSCIC said.
The data also showed the number of hospital admissions as a result of other animal attacks was also on the rise.
Bites and strikes from other mammals such as horses, foxes and cats accounted for 2,970 admissions – a ten per cent increase compared to the previous 12-month period.
Caroline Kisko, secretary of dog organisation the Kennel Club, said: “Dogs are a huge part of our lives in Britain and children are naturally curious and excited to be around them, so it is crucial that they are taught from an early age how best to interact with them.
“As we head towards summer, more and more dog owners will be out walking their pets for longer, so now is the perfect opportunity to sit down with your child and speak to them about dog safety, and using the tips and game available through the Kennel Club’s Safe and Sound Scheme, have some fun at the same time.”
Man left with gaping wounds after attack
In recent months there have been a number of dog attacks in Bradford – including two just this month.
On April 10, 27-year-old Jamie Farrell was left with gaping wounds to his leg and arm after a Japanese Akita, which has since been seized by police, savaged him in Pollard Lane Undercliffe. He underwent surgery at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
And just days later, on April 15, a man was arrested after a six-year-old boy needed hospital treatment for foot injuries caused by a dog on Leeds Road, Bradford Moor.
Last September, Mick Chyriwsky’s thumb was bitten to the bone and his left forearm punctured in several places by a Japanese Akita in Sheridan Street, Bowling, leading to treatment at BRI.
In August 2013, Nine-year-old Callum Gilpin was hospitalised after he was bitten by a dog on the Canterbury Estate, and the same month police shot dead an aggressive dog after 13-year-old Luca Lanfear was subjected to a ten-minute gruelling attack at a house on Frank Street, Great Horton.
‘Life turned upside down’
Delivery driver Chris Hirst said his life changed forever after he was savagely attacked by a dog in Bierley.
A year on from the vicious assault and the 63-year-old has just had his eighth operation – a painful four-hour procedure involving removing bone and bone marrow from his hip to use to repair damage to his right arm.
Mr Hirst’s arm was snapped in two by an American bulldog when he was delivering prescription medication in Fairfax Crescent, Bierley. Had it not been for the actions of passer-by Danny Gomersall, who hit the dog with a shovel, Mr Hirst says he would be dead.
“I was quite happy doing my job and then for this to happen, it’s just turned my life upside down. There’s a whole lot of things I can’t do now. If it wasn’t for my wife, I’d be up the creek without a paddle,” he said.
The father-of-two, of Tyersal, said his working days are now over and the past year has been a mix of physiotherapy and hospital appointments.
“The figures are atrocious, let’s face it,” he added.
“I know we’re quite a vast population in Bradford, but 104 is a lot. Those dogs should be properly licensed and they should be recorded with the police.”
He said police were unable to act following his attack as it happened on private land.
Hospital admissions for dog bites from February 2013 to January 2014 by where victims live
- West Yorkshire – 498 admissions; 21.7 per 100,000 people
- Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven CCG – 17 admissions; 10.7 per 100,000
- Bradford City CCG – between one and five (exact figures not released to protect patient confidentiality)
- Bradford Districts CCG – 84 admissions; 25.2 per 100,000
- Calderdale CCG – 32 admissions; 15.6 per 100,000
- Leeds West CCG – 73 admissions; 22.8 per 100,000
- North Kirklees CCG – 45 admissions; 24.1 per 100,000