THE Wigan Evening Post has launched a major campaign to reintroduce dog licences following the tragic death of local schoolgirl Jade Lomas-Anderson.
This comes after the coroner presiding over the inquest into the 14-year-old, who died after being mauled by a pack of dogs at a house in Atherton in 2013, called for changes in the law because he believes the current measures to control dangerous or badly-trained animals do not go far enough.
Area coroner Alan Walsh told the inquest he favoured licensing, which was scrapped in Great Britain in 1987 but is still used in Northern Ireland, and called for a policy which was proactive rather than reactive.
Jade’s devastated stepdad Michael Anderson has also previously backed a system of licences or registration to make owners fully accountable for their animals’ actions.
Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, who has led the campaign in Parliament for reform, also gave her support and said recent law changes do not go far enough as they cannot prevent attacks.
Ms Hilling said: “I think it is absolutely essential to have licensing or registration of all dogs, with the money raised used on preventative measures to stop dog attacks happening and promoting responsible ownership.
“We need a system where concerns about dogs can be reported and taken seriously so action can be taken before an attack happens, and it must be adequately resourced. That’s why dog licences may well come in.”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) backs dog registration but says this needs to happen alongside a continuing programme of education and awareness among owners to reduce bites and attacks.
A spokesman said: “Dog licensing should include a permanent identification by microchip and is necessary if the responsibility for the welfare and control of dogs is to be put where it properly belongs, with the owner or keeper.
“A dog licensing scheme would help in establishing the ownership of stray dogs and in investigating cases of cruelty.”
However, not all animal organisations agree. The Kennel Club is concerned licensing would excessively punish responsible owners and the Dogs Trust prefers compulsory microchipping.
SIGN OUR ‘JADE’S LAW’ PETITION IN THE WIGAN EVENING POST AND SEND IT TO ANDREW NOWELL AT THE WEP, MARTLAND MILL, MARTLAND MILL LANE, WIGAN.