Killer dogs “rife” on estate

THE owner of a cat mauled to death by killer dogs has called for action to combat the fashion for fighting dogs on a Hitchin estate.

The 37-year-old of Bingham Road, who did not want to be named, demanded action after his cat was killed in the early hours of Sunday morning by two dogs thought to be a Staffordshire bull terrier and a pit-bull Staffordshire cross . They were roaming the streets of the Westmill estate alone.

“Something’s got to be done about dangerous dogs,” he said. “Kids are buying them to show their friends and boast about them. A lot of young kids are buying dogs like these to show them off. It’s rife around here.”

A neighbour, Kimberley Ireland, heard the animals fighting at around 5am.

“I was woken up to a cat screaming. Looking out my window there were two dogs who had the cat between them. By the time I got outside the cat was dead.”

Afraid for other cats in the neighbourhood, she took the dogs into her flat and shut them in the kitchen while she rang for help, but found no-one willing to come and take them.

“I am disgusted. The police they said they could not help. Then the RSPCA said the same. When I contacted the dog warden they would not come out either.”

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Concerned for her young son in the flat, she took the dogs back outside where she was helped by another neighbour who got the dogs on leads and took them by car to Stevenage Police Station. But she was turned away by officers who said they could not impound the animals.

Police eventually arrived at 9.30am to return the dogs to their owner, thought to be a Letchworth man who had left the animals with his father in Seaborn Close.

Although angry with the response from the authorities, Mrs Ireland said the problem stemmed from the fashion in the area for dog fighting among youths.

“I am fed up with seeing these types of dogs wandering around without leads or muzzles. In my area they are used as breeding and fighting machines. Maybe next time when it’s my son or someone else’s child someone will start to pay attention.”

Steve Mann, police dog unit inspector for Herts and Beds, said under the Dangerous Dogs Act police have no powers to seize dogs unless they are prohibited breeds or if members of the public have been injured or are in fear of injury.

“In this instance none of these factors were in place,” he said, adding: “It is an offence for dogs to be out of control in a public place, alleged in this instance, and the matter is being investigated.”

He added that there had been no reports of organised dog fighting in the area and urged anyone with information to contact police.

North Herts District Council said it is responsible for strays, but does not have a dog warden available after 10pm.

A welfare officer said they are trying to speak to the owner of the two dogs “to ensure they are adequately supervised and kept under control at all times”.

A spokesman for the RSPCA said the initial responsibility in this case was with the police or the local authority, but urged anyone with information about the incident to call their cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.