NEARLY everyone who has been attacked by dogs in Colchester does not press charges.

In the past six months, 20 attacks by dogs on people have been reported to Colchester Council, but only one has reached the courts (see page 18).

Animal control manager Colin Rand says this is often down to the simple fear an animal may be destroyed as a result.

He said: “That would be down to the courts to decide, but there are more ways than just putting a dog to sleep to deal with such situations.

“They might be asked to put a muzzle on or always keep them on leads.

“But in 99 per cent of cases those people who have been bitten do not want to press charges.”

The figures also show there have been 32 incidents where one dog has attacked another in Colchester since April.

Mr Rand added: “Dangerous dogs are not a huge problem on the whole in Colchester, but the council’s policy in all instances is to prosecute.

“That is where it becomes quite difficult, because in all cases it is one person’s word against another, so we rarely would be able to proceed to a court case unless the warden is actually there to witness the incident.

“Of course, this is rare and it is nearly always the case that those who are hurt do not want to press charges.”

Mr Rand’s wardens do try to follow up incidents.

He continued: “We do stakeouts where we will go out at the same time as people might be taking their dogs out.

“Dog owners tend to be creatures of habit, so we will go out with a camera at the same time to see if the same thing happens again.

“The only way we would be able to prosecute is if we had physical evidence.”

Most dog attack cases, if they go to court, are put before the magistrates as civil complaints with a view to seeking a control order on the dog.

The magistrates can choose whether to apply a control order, which may require the dog to be kept on a lead, or muzzled, or in extreme or persistent cases, they can pass a destruction order.

Last year there were 32 attacks by dogs on people, with summer the most common time for attacks.

Mr Rand said: “The summer tends to be the time of year these things happen as people are out and about more. Thankfully there have been no severe attacks in Colchester so far this year. The injuries have been mainly scrapes and bruises.”

Despite the absence of prosecutions, Mr Rand said owners will be warned.

He said: “We send warning letters out and we do speak to owners. The police are also equally involved in the process because the public will make complaints to them as well.”