The number of people with dog attack injuries being treated at Ipswich Hospital’s A&E has nearly trebled in the past decade, latest figures show.

Ipswich Star: Graphic showing the number of A&E attendances for dog attack injuries. Picture: KOULA PAIZI/ARCHANT GRAPHICS UNITGraphic showing the number of A&E attendances for dog attack injuries. Picture: KOULA PAIZI/ARCHANT GRAPHICS UNIT (Image: Archant)

An investigation by this newspaper has revealed the number of patients treated for bites, scratches and more serious injuries caused by dogs.

In total, 415 people attended the emergency department with such injuries from January 2016 to April this year. This compares with 138 ten years ago, in 2007. This is compared to 241 in 2013 and 229 from January 2014 to the end of September.

The figures, retrieved from the trust using a Freedom of Information request, also suggest there is a spike in injuries during the summer.

Experts believe modern lifestyles could be to blame, with more people leaving pets at home for long periods during the day.

Zoe Willingham, who owns Best Behaviour Dog Training based in Ipswich, said: “I think that especially nowadays people are so busy with their working lives and dogs are left on their own all day which stops their capacity for mental stimulation.

“If you think when their owner comes home and they are taken out for an hour’s walk or so and they have all these different things happening at the same time, other dogs coming up in their faces, people petting them – it’s too much for a dog.

“Biting is an absolute last resort for a dog.

“They only bite when they feel they have absolutely no other option and I think because of their lack of stimulation sometimes it becomes too much for them.”

Ms Willingham added: “For me it is not a shock that these types of injuries have gone up so much in the last few years – I would say to people if they feel their dog is becoming upset or nipping, visit a behavioural group before they bite someone and cause damage.

“I see both sides, so I see dogs come in for training as well as when things go wrong with their behaviour.

“It is unfair for people to buy young dogs, especially puppies, and expect them to behave if they are left alone for long periods one minute and over-stimulated the next.”

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