Rotherham toddler seriously hurt in Rottweiler attack

Two-year-old girl taken to hospital after attack by 'family pet' as government consultation on dangerous dogs begins

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The Independent Online

Police are investigating after a two-year-old girl was attacked by a Rottweiler dog, causing serious head and leg injuries. The dog is thought to be a family pet.

The dog said by police to have been on a lead at the time of the attack, is reported to have mauled the child in Rawmarsh, Rotherham on Tuesday morning.

The victim had been with a woman and the dog at the time.

The toddler, who has not been named, was taken to Rotherham General Hospital on Tuesday morning. She was then reportedly transferred to Sheffield Children's Hospital, police have said.

The dog has been taken to a secure kennel facility whilst police inquiries continue into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Officers from South Yorkshire Police described the girl's condition as stable and not life-threatening.

The incident comes as the Government launches a consultation on proposals to make it possible for prosecutions to be brought against anyone whose dog injures a person.

Currently, the maximum prison sentence for the owner of a dog that kills or injures someone is two years, with legislation only covering attacks by dogs in public places and private areas where animals are prohibited. New proposals recommend that prosecution can be brought if a dog attacks somebody in the owner's home.

The consultation will run until 1 September and prison terms suggested for a dog owner whose animal injures a person or kills a guide dog for the blind, range from three to 10 years.

Lord de Mauley, the animal welfare minister, said, “Dog attacks are terrifying and we need harsh penalties to punish those who allow their dog to injure people while out of control.

“We're already toughening up laws to ensure that anyone who owns a dangerous dog can be brought to justice, regardless of where a dog attack takes place.”

Trades unions representing postal workers and delivery staff have welcome the consultation. They have long-arguing that laws need to be extended to cover dog attacks in an owner's home.

Figures from the Communication Workers' Union suggest that 23,000 postal workers have been attacked by dogs in the last five years. The vast majority of these attacks have taken place on private property.

The last few years has seen a steady rise in hospital admissions due to dog bites, with 4,611 admissions recorded by the Health and Social Care Information Centre in 2007-08, rising to over 6,500 in the year 2011-12.