Published Friday, 21 February 2014
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Rachel Besau's son Archie was just two when he was attacked by a dog in the home of a family friend. The animal had never been aggressive before and no one imagined it would turn on the child.
"I just heard Archie scream out," Rachel said, describing how she found her son covered in blood.
"I was a bit hysterical, screaming for an ambulance."
It can be a common misconception that children are only at risk from bigger dogs, but even small animals can give a nasty bite.
In Archie's case, he required surgery to stitch his upper lip back together - although, three years on, his scars are barely visible.
"I think I'm more scared now of the children around dogs than the children themselves are," Rachel admitted, adding that her son is also nervous around strange dogs they may meet in the street.
The Dangerous Dogs Act (1991) which bans four breeds of dogs has been an epic disaster. One of those four is the pitbull terrier - we seem to have more of those now than we had in 1991.
Clarissa Baldwin, Dogs Trust
In the wake of a regent tragedy in which a six-day-old baby girl was killed by the family pet, dog experts are urging owners to always be aware of the risks when it comes to children.
Clarissa Baldwin from the Dogs Trust is keen to point out that millions of dogs are much-loved pets who live happily without incident in family homes.
But the guidance regarding animals and children needs to be heeded.
"Dogs are good for us, let's remember that - if they're treated correctly," she told This Morning.
Clarissa notes that dogs who are made to feel uncomfortable by the presence of young children are limited in how to communicate those feelings - prompting them to perhaps snap.
"The only way the dog can communicate is to take a bite. With a Yorkshire terrier, it's only tiny. But with a bigger dog, of course, it's a bigger bite," she said.
"If the dog looks nervous at all, I would keep them very much apart."
Clarissa also hopes that better legislation in future will help discourage irresponsible dog ownership - including compulsory microchipping and the ability to prosecute over attacks in private homes.
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