Calls have been made to change the Dangerous Dogs Act so that animals are judged on behaviour rather than breed.

The Dangerous Dogs Act originally came into force in the UK in 1991and it regulates or prohibits the ownership of certain breeds and types of dogs. These breeds were considered to be significantly more likely to have aggressive tendencies or attack people than other breeds, and to cause injury or death due to their nature and ability to inflict serious damage.

Owners of potentially dangerous dogs may be prosecuted and their animals removed or destroyed. The RSPCA has spoken about its “serious concerns” relating to breed-specific legislation, stating that it believes this to be ineffective at protecting public safety as aggression is a much more complex issue than simply the breed or type of dog.

Charlene McAuliffe, an associate in Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team, said: “Many people regularly come into contact with animals and form strong attachments with their pets. Nevertheless, animals are unpredictable and can act aggressively in certain circumstances. Although this may be due to the temperament of the animal or the behaviour of others; it can also happen unexpectedly.

"All animal owners, whether they keep pets, livestock or working animals, have a duty of care to the public. For most canine attacks, the dog’s behaviour in the past is all-important. While we continue to believe that the ban on certain breeds is crucial to protect the public from the heightened risk they pose, aggression can be influenced by factors such as how dogs are bred and reared and their experiences throughout their lifetime. It is important not to lose sight of that by solely focusing on the breed."