Toddler mauled by 'out-of-control' dog as police issue warning to everyone in South Yorkshire

A toddler has been mauled by an out of control dog - prompting police to issue an urgent warning to all owners in South Yorkshire.

The two-year-old child suffered injuries to their face when the dog attacked them over the weekend in Doncaster. It was one of 14 calls made to the police between Saturday, April 27, and Sunday, April 28, concerning out-of-control dogs.

Officers were also called out to Sheffield when a man was attacked by his own dog, as well as to Rotherham when the same thing happened to a woman. Both attacks happened inside the owners' homes and both victims needed surgery for their injuries. In another incident, a man was attacked by a dog that was on the loose in the street.

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Now, South Yorkshire Police have issued an urgent warning to all dog owners, of all breeds, stressing the strain the calls are putting on the force. In a statement, a force spokesman said: "Emergency calls for dangerous dogs present a financial cost the force every time we respond, often requiring officers from multiple teams to attend, as well as contracted kennel personnel who then transport, house and care for the dogs until action is decided."

The spokesperson explained that after the initial call-out, officers then carry out safeguarding checks and make referrals for vulnerable people, as well as progressing the investigation into any crimes that may have taken place. The force is also responsible for ensuring seized dogs are cared for and kennelled until a decision on whether to euthanise the animal, prosecute the owners or release without any charges is made.

Already in 2024, SYP have seized over 300 dogs for various reasons but the most often being because they were "dangerously out of control" or suspected to be a banned breed.

Leading the work on dangerous dogs, Chief Inspector Emma Cheney explained further: “Each dangerous dog incident is a cost to the force. Each incident takes police officers away from responding to other incidents, it is resource intensive and, in some instances, could be prevented if owners would take precautions and stop thinking it won’t happen to me or my children.

“In addition to the police resources, serious incidents add a further pressure to our NHS colleagues, and in some cases, social services, and housing associations.

“Please act. Please follow our advice, understand your dog and its behaviour, and seek help where necessary.”

She added people are more likely to be bitten by a dog in their own home and issued the following rules:

  • Do not leave children unattended with dogs

  • Walk your dog on a lead in public areas

  • Make sure your dog has somewhere safe and comfortable to go when you have visitors

Chief Insp Cheney added: “No matter how long a dog has been part of your family, it can cause harm and injury. They are animals. Animals can’t express things to us, but understanding their behaviour, body language, what is normal and not normal, can prevent injury. In certain breeds these signs may not be as obvious or easy to identify as others.”

For more information about how to keep you, your family and dog safe, please visit the BlueCross website.

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