Families and dog owners are being urged to take extra care when allowing to children to play with animals after a series of incidents in which children were hurt.
Sussex Police has issued a warning after a number of children were hurt after being scratched or bitten by dogs in the county in recent weeks.
Police said some of those hurt were injured by their family pet but others were bitten by the animals of their friends. There was no single breed of dog involved in the incidents.
Officers from the Sussex and Surrey dogs unit are now warning people to take care when allowing children to spend time with dogs.
The incidents over the weekend of June 19-21 included:
- a five-year-old girl was bitten three times by the family’s Staffordshire Bull Terrier in St Andrews Close, Chichester, on June 21. She had to have three stitches to her face.
- an eight-year-old girl was bitten by a friend’s Shitzu-Bizon cross in Stroud Green Drive, Bognor Regis, on June 21. The child had to have five stitches to her face.
- a two-year-old suffered cuts to her forehead and cheek after she was scratched by the Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross of a family friend in South Farm Road, Worthing, on Saturday, June 20. The toddler was treated in hospital.
Inspector Di Lewis, from the Sussex and Surrey dogs unit, said: “More and more people are out enjoying the warmer weather and longer days which is meaning children are having more contact with dogs that are out with their owners.
“Dogs can get excited when playing and may accidentally hurt children or adults. If the dog does not know the person it could become confused and think they are playing a game with it - or the animal could become scared and bite or scratch to defend itself.
“That applies both when you are outdoors but also when you go to the home of someone who has a dog who does not know you. The fact that children have also been injured by their family dogs shows how dangerous they can be if they are not properly supervised.
“I would urge everyone to be wary of how a dog could act. Every dog is different but they are all animals and you cannot predict how they will react if they feel provoked. Children should not be left alone with dogs.
“The simple message is be careful when you are playing with dogs.”
Since last year it has been a criminal offence for an owner to allow their dog to bite someone, whether it happens in public or private.
Dogs can be put to sleep if they are shown to have attacked someone and the owners can be prosecuted.
If you are concerned a dog is acting dangerously out of control call 999.
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