OWNERS of out-of-control dogs in Swindon have been warned to expect court action by the council.

There has been an increase in the number of attacks by dangerous dogs over the last two years, with a rise in the number of first-time owners during the pandemic thought to have had a part to play.

Wiltshire Police statistics show that in 2020 the received 70 reports of crimes under the Dangerous Dogs Act, and two non-criminal reports.

In 2021 up until November 4 it had received 70 reports of crimes and four non-criminal reports.

Swindon councillor Dale Heenan’s beagle, Juno, was one of the dogs attacked.

The incident happened at Lydiard Park in August and the Covingham and Dorcan ward representative has spoken of his concerns.

“As chair of Swindon Borough Council’s licensing committee I’m briefed on various things including on dogs daycare/boarding and dog attacks," he said.

“There’s been an increase in dog attacks this year. Probably as people bought more during Covid.

“Juno was attacked in Lydiard Park while on her lead.

"Another dog pinned Juno down and she started yelping, the owner just sort of walked along without any care in the world. Thankfully there was only a small scratch.

“Your dog is not being boisterous or playing if it’s pinning another dog or it's yelping. 

"If your dog is off the lead and another dog is on the lead then put yours on.”

The Dangerous Dogs Act has made it illegal for dogs to be out of control in public. A dog is considered dangerously out of control if it injures someone or they are worried that it might injure them or an assistance dog, but doesn’t apply to dog attacks on other dogs.

The council investigates dog attacks along with Wiltshire Police and regularly takes people to court over serious instances.

A Swindon Borough Council spokesperson said: “Most cases are dealt with informally, such as giving advice to the dog owner, but for extremely serious attacks we can take formal action such as applying to court for a control order on the dog. 

“The court can impose any number of restrictions up to and including the destruction of the dog and, in criminal cases, owners can also be prosecuted.

“At any one time we will often have several ongoing investigations following reports from the public. This has remained constant throughout the pandemic but the severity of some of the injuries sustained has increased recently.”

Coun Heenan added a publicity campaign from the council to get the message across to dog owners that it is their responsibility to control their dogs is coming soon.