There were renewed calls last night for tougher laws on dangerous dogs after a great grandmother died after an apparent mauling at the hands of her daughter's five dogs.
Gloria Knowles, 71, was found dead with multiple injuries at a house in Morden, South London on Tuesday. It is believed she went to feed the dogs when she was set upon. Police were called to the property after neighbours heard "hysterical" screams and seized two French mastiffs, two American bulldogs and a mongrel.
In new guidelines this year, judges were encouraged use harsher sentences on irresponsible dog owners.
But under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, owners cannot be prosecuted if a pet attacks someone on private property, prompting campaigners to say the Act is "hardly worth the paper it's written on".
John Massey, the father of four-year-old John Paul who was mauled to death by a pit bull in Liverpool in 2009, said: "I thought after John Paul died that the law might be changed, but every time you look at the news it's somebody else. How many innocent people are going to suffer before they say enough's enough?"
Billy Hayes, general secretary of the Communications Union, which represents postal workers, called for immediate action:
"The death of Gloria Knowles is another sad reminder of the need for better dangerous dogs laws. If a person is killed by dogs on private property there is almost no chance of prosecuting the owner and getting compensation for victims, regardless of the recklessness of the dog owner and the viciousness of the attack.
Rachel Cunningham, public affairs manager at Blue Cross pet charity, warned that "horrific incidents are continuing to happen regularly", while the Kennel Club advised that when owners mix dogs of different breeds together in one household, it's important that each animal has the right lifestyle for its type.