Have you seen a pit bull?

AFTER five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson was mauled to death by a family dog on New Year s Day, The Comet decided to find out how many dangerous canines there are in Comet country. According to Stevenage Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council an

AFTER five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson was mauled to death by a family dog on New Year's Day, The Comet decided to find out how many dangerous canines there are in Comet country.

According to Stevenage Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Mid Bedfordshire District Council, there are none.

Before 1998, all dogs, regardless of their danger to society, had to have a licence.

But a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "There is no longer a compulsory registration of dogs in place but we recommend people do it voluntarily.


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"The legal requirement to register dogs was dropped in 1998 because only 44 per cent of people were registering their dogs and it became unenforceable."

According to the Dangerous Dogs Act, it is still an offence to own or keep a pit bull terrier, Japanese tosa, dogo argentino or fila brasileiro, unless it is on the Index of Exempted Dogs and is in compliance with the requirements.

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These dogs are still required to be registered.

A recent press release revealed Stevenage Borough Council receives 500 complaints a year about dog-related issues, but a spokesman for the council said: "There are no registered dangerous dogs in the town.

"If anyone is aware of an unregistered dog which they believe to be one of the four breeds that are required to be registered we would ask them to contact our animal control team on 01438 242908."

A spokesman for North Herts District Council said: "Dogs must be kept on leads where there are signs, but not as a general rule."

Under the new Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act, councils are now able to ban dogs from certain places such as parks or children's play areas.

They are also able to limit the number of dogs that someone can walk at any one time, and require dog owners to keep their dogs on leads in public places.

Mid Beds District Council were unable to comment as The Comet went to press.

How do you fend off a dangerous dog?

* No sudden movements

* Put hands in pockets

* Avoid eye contact

* Back away but do not run away

* Children can accidentally provoke a dog

* Never try to break up two fighting dogs

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