A TOTAL of 175 dog attacks were reported to Swindon Borough Council last year - 20 up on the figure for 2016.

None was a dog’s fault. It really is true that there is no such thing as a bad dog, only bad humans.

That’s why I’ve always said I can’t wait until some sort of technological breakthrough allows us to communicate with them on a more advanced level than ordering them to sit, stay, heel and stop doing that unspeakable thing to the leg of the kitchen table.

Then we can explain to them that they shouldn’t associate with certain humans.

Some as yet uncreated branch of officialdom will be able to send them informative letters or emails...

“Dear dog,

“You will have noticed by now that your owner hasn’t been back to the house for a few hours. That is because we have taken him to a safe place where he can’t harm anybody or be a nuisance.

“We dropped in while you were asleep.

“You will also notice that we’ve left you some clean water instead of the stagnant stuff which had been in your bowl since last week, and some decent food. Please accept these gifts. We’ll be along shortly to advise you of your new domestic arrangements.

“This might all come as a bit of a shock to you, but don’t worry. All will be well.

“You see, we decided he was a bad influence on you and had been ever since he bought you from the dodgy breeder operating from a van round the back of that half-demolished industrial estate.

“You are quite a powerful breed of dog, with great big teeth and a jaw strong enough to crack bricks. This is not your fault. Like all dogs, from the smallest Yorkie to a mastiff which could moonlight as a Blackpool beach donkey, all you ever wanted or needed was a decent, safe home, people to love and be loved by and some proper training.

“That was the bargain our kind first made with yours thousands of years ago, when we discovered that your ancestors, the wolves, would protect our settlements in exchange for a share of the food, the odd scratch behind the ears and perhaps a stick to chase every so often.

“Unfortunately your owner, or should we say, your former owner, had other ideas, on account of being a slobbering psychological inadequate who’s about as bright as the light from a 40 watt bulb at the bottom of a mineshaft seen from the top.

“That’s why he was always failing to stop you from behaving aggressively - and sometimes encouraged you to be aggressive because it made him feel better about himself.

“It’s why he used to feel proud of himself when you snarled at people while he strutted along the street with you.

“Without our intervention, you would probably have ended up biting somebody and possibly being euthanised, which would have been a terror for your victim and deeply unfair for you.

“That is why you will shortly be picked up by your new owners, carefully chosen by us not only because they are decent human beings but also because they are lifelong dog-lovers who know how to provide the support and kindness which is the right of every dog.

“Oh, and you will no longer be chained to that post in the barren garden with nothing to do all day except bark and look at your own waste.

“Of course, as a noble and loyal animal you will inevitably feel sentimental pangs for your former owner.

“Please try not to worry about him, as he is very happy.

“We’ve sent him to live on a farm...”