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Staying safe around dogs

"Signs your dog is feeling anxious," The Dog's Trust

LIVERPOOL'S Public Health Team is working with animal behaviour experts to develop public awareness on how to interact with dogs safely and reduce harm. People and dogs are usually a great combination, but situations can easily become overwhelming for dogs, leaving them scared and anxious, with sometimes devastating results.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joanne Anderson, lead Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods said:- "The UK is definitely a nation of animal lovers, but the worrying increase in dog bites within people's homes, alongside the tragic case over weekend reminds us that animal behaviour can sometimes be unpredictable; and that any dog can bite; even your family pet. With higher than national rates of Hospitalisations and potential life changing injuries occurring locally, Liverpool City Council is now working with partners to raise awareness of this issue and help prevent further tragedies from occurring."

The number of injuries from dog bites has been steadily increasing across England, and instances of dog bites are higher amongst family pets, opposed to unknown dogs.

Director of Public Health for Liverpool, Professor Matthew Ashton said:- "There are lots of health benefits to having a pet at home, including companionship and getting people outdoors and experiencing our wonderful City. Whilst most dogs are well trained and socialised, it's important to remember that they can sometimes feel overwhelmed, which can result in unexpected aggression. Liverpool's Public Health Team are working with animal behaviour experts at The University of Liverpool to develop public awareness on how to interact with dogs safely and reduce harm."

Hospital admissions from dog related injuries increased in Liverpool by more than 60% in the period 2008 to 2018. This is the equivalent to 3 people every week; and is more than double the national average. While rates of dog bites in adults and children remain comparable, children are more often bit on their head or neck, resulting in more life changing injuries. It's important to remember that while most dogs are friendly, they can be unpredictable.

Dr John Tulloch, Specialist in Veterinary Public Health at The University of Liverpool said:- "Despite sustained education and preventative campaigns across large parts of society, the issue of dog bites continues to grow and is a huge public health issue. It is important to remember that any dog can bite regardless of how well you know the dog, and most bites will occur in the owner's home. Dog bites to children can be very severe, so ensure that you observe children and dogs closely and intervene when necessary. Dogs do not want to bite you, it is a last resort response for them, so watch out for any warning signs of them being uncomfortable in a situation and remove yourselves, or them, from it."

Here's some key advice for staying safe around dogs at home, or on the move:-

Spotting the warning signs...

Signs that a dog is stressed or uncomfortable isn't limited to growling or baring their teeth; more subtle behaviours like folding ears back, displaying tension in their bodies, or flicking their tongue can all be signs that they are feeling anxious; which can result in unexpected aggression.

Learning to spot these early warning signs can help prevent aggression before it escalates.

If you own a dog and notice any sudden changes in your dog's behaviour, consider visiting a vet who can check for any underlying health issues or refer you to an animal behaviourist.

Dog training is also a really important part of dog ownership and is a way of bonding with your dog. It helps build confidence and provides mental stimulation - reducing stress and helping to keep your dog happy.

Sharing a space with a dog...

If you live with a dog; or are visiting a home of someone who has a dog; it's important to understand how to share that space safely.

Recognise that normal childhood activities like:- running, shouting and energetic play can sometimes be overwhelming for dogs, so look to create a 'dog zone' where they can go if it gets too noisy.

Try not to disturb a dog when it's eating or sleeping, and show older children how to interact with a dog, and that they shouldn't grab at their tails or ears, or give prolonged cuddles.

Avoid leaving babies or small children alone with a dog; even a trusted family pet.

Remember even the best behaved dog may bite if it feels scared or threatened.

Meeting a dog outdoors...

Dogs are social creatures, but always ask the owner if it's okay before approaching or stroking a dog - and respect boundaries if the answer is no.

If an unknown dog approaches, and you don't feel comfortable, try and stay still and calm; and avoid making any sudden movements.

Don't look the dog in the eye, and if you're holding food or a toy... drop it. If the dog loses interest in you, slowly walk away.

Concerned about a dog's welfare?

If a dog is on their own; be aware that they may be lost or scared and could be more likely to bite out of fear.

If you need to report a stray or abandoned dog in Liverpool, contact:- Animal Wardens Limited on:- 01513742174, between:- 8.30am and midnight.

You can make direct reports to the RSPCA regarding animal cruelty, but always report dangerous dogs or dog fighting to Merseyside Police on:- 01517096010.

If you need to report nuisance barking, or dog fouling visit the RSPCA website.

Under the Animal Welfare Regulations, selling animals as pets or offer boarding / day care services requires special licences; so if you think someone is operating without a licence you can also report this online.

To help residents and dogs live more harmoniously, Liverpool City Council introduced the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) last autumn, which prohibits dogs from:- entering children's play areas, ensures dogs are kept on a lead in all of the City's cemeteries and targets owners who fail to dispose of their dog mess responsibly.

SEND School places consultations launch

SINCE Thursday, 19 January 2023, residents are being asked for feedback on Council plans to increase the number of School places for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities. In 2022, stakeholders, including:- parents and carers, took part in an informal consultation on an initial set of proposals. In response to the feedback, a new set of proposals was developed, with the Council's Cabinet greenlighting them for formal consultation at its November meeting.

There is a pressing need in Liverpool to increase the number of School places for children and young people who have SEND, with the City seeing a 46% increase in pupils with education and health care plans since 2019. This rise in numbers means that sometimes children are placed in an out of city School or in a School, within the independent non-maintained sector. The 2 4 week consultations begin for these proposals:-

Create Bank View South, a satellite of Bank View High School, at the former Parklands School site, Ganworth Road.

Bank View School would remain at its site in Fazakerley, but a new satellite site would open at Parklands for children with complex needs.

It would be used from the next School year for up to 60 Year 7 pupils, increasing by a year group each year until it has a total of 300 pupils up to Year 11.

Educating children at the new site would be more cost effective, potentially saving up to £1.4m in comparison to placing children at Schools in the non-maintained or independent sectors.

Create a satellite for Palmerston School on the former Palmerston site, on Beaconsfield Road.

The former Palmerston School building, which was closed when the new School building opened, would be used for pupils with severe/profound and multiple learning difficulties.

The Beaconsfield Road site will offer a curriculum for students aged:- 14 to 19, and it would also see an increase in the number of Year 7 pupils on the main site.

If the Beaconsfield Road site isn't re-opened it is estimated that educating this number of young people in the non-maintained or independent sector would cost up to £1.6m more.

If the proposals are approved, then both these new sites would be operational from:- 1 September 2023, with any building work taking place before the end of the summer term. Both satellite sites will have the same Headteachers and governing body as their parent School.

Both consultation are open until:- Wednesday, 15 February 2023. Details of both consultations and how to share feedback are on the Council's consultation webpage.

Cllr Tomas Logan, cabinet member for Education and Skills, said:- "We have been able to develop these proposals from the feedback that parents, carers, Schools and other stakeholders shared with us last year and we are asking once again for everyone to consider these new proposals and tell us what they think. From the number of children currently in the final years of primary education we know that increasing Year 7 places is particularly urgent, and these 2 proposals would support this aim, as well as ensuring that we can further increase the number of places for other School years going forward."

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