Dog owners reminded of restrictions during high season for incidents

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“Keep your dogs under control,” is a message being clearly conveyed to dog owners in Tunbridge Wells.

Last week, at the start of Dog Awareness week, Royal Mail reported a year-on-year surge in dog attacks on postal workers around the country, with the Tunbridge Wells area being the worst offender.

Although Tunbridge Wells has been on the list of worst offenders for nine years, so far this year, about 65 postal workers have been confronted by people’s pets – up from 44 last year. These attacks occurred across TN postcodes, including Cranbrook, Crowborough, Edenbridge, Tonbridge and Uckfield.

Historically, Kent Police receive the highest number of dog incident reports between May and August, and this year seems set to be no different, with 124 reported incidents in Kent in May, and 44 from June 1-12. These incidents included dog bites and dog-on-dog attacks.

However, many reported incidents are occurring out of the house, too. In one recent incident, a man fought off a pit bull-type dog in Dunorlan Park.

Malcolm Flanagan was in the ‘off lead’ part of the park on June 22 when he saw a pit bull running toward him. He said: “Although I am a pensioner aged 73, I was strong enough to fight the dog off and kick it several times. The dog ran a hundred yards to attack me followed by the irresponsible owner.”

He told the Times: “The leash was around the dog’s neck – it had broken away from its owner.

“What do you think would have happened if I were a little old lady? What would have happened if I were a mum with a toddler?”

He added: “It’s not going to stop me walking but I will pick up a very large stick on the way in.”

Friends of Dunorlan Park Chairman Peter Russell told the Times: “If it had been a child or someone less able, it could be very serious.”

He added: “The first recourse should be to call the police. If you have got a mobile phone, carry it with you. You should take immediate action – don’t go home and dwell on it.”

In the countryside, dogs that ‘worry’ livestock can land their owners with a hefty fine, or the dog might even be shot.

Last month, a Kent dog owner had to pay £5,000 in compensation and a fine of £1,150 for two incidents last November in which eight sheep were killed, along with several unborn lambs.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw of the Rural Task Force said: “This is a significant penalty and a reminder of why we always urge owners to keep pets under control around any livestock.

“It is important to also remember that farmers are within their rights to sometimes shoot dogs, if they are deemed to be worrying their animals.”

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