Dog expert fears tragedy

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AN international dog expert fears a “tragedy is waiting to happen” at Newmillerdam after a Rottweiler mauled a Yorkshire Terrier to death.

Police and military dog training advisor Gavin Hepworth, who helps law enforcement agencies all over the world, fears a child could be attacked next.

The respected dog handler spoke out after his sister’s dog Sam was killed at the popular beauty spot earlier this month by an out-of-control Rottweiler.

Mr Hepworth, 51, of Wakefield, said: “I’ve done a lot of research down at Newmillerdam. There’s just a tragedy waiting to happen, dogs running around, fighting over a stick. This could escalate and other dogs - as well trained as they may be - their natural pack instinct will kick in. A fight could develop then a man, woman or child in the vicinity could get injured, a little kid could get killed or pushed out of a pram.”

He added: “I will stake my professional reputation of 27 years on it, there is a disaster waiting to happen there - it could be a child.”

Mr Hepworth said Sam’s death had hit his sister Janet Lockwood hard and her dogs “were like kids to her”.

The handler praised the police and council for their handling of his sister’s case but has called on Wakefield Council to consider using dog control orders, which are used in Leeds.

These limit the places where dogs can be off leads, like children’s playgrounds, and the amount of dogs that any one person can walk at one time.

Anyone breaching the orders faces a £75 fixed penalty notice, a possible court appearance and fines of up to £1,000.

There are no dog control orders currently in place but Wakefield Council confirmed yesterday they were looking at them.

Glynn Humphries, service director for Cleaner and Greener, said: “Newmillerdam is a popular dog-walking location. We want people to use the park with confidence and we always urge all dog owners to act responsibly in all our parks and open spaces.

“We will be looking into the possibility of using all of the legislation available with regards to responsible dog ownership to ensure residents and visitors to Wakefield can use our parks and open spaces with confidence.”