Oldbury Boy Bitten by West Midlands Police dog
A 10-year-old boy was injured when he was bitten by a police dog in his grandmother’s back garden.
Tom Cutbill was hurt in New Henry Street, Oldbury, while West Midlands Police officers responded to reports of a nearby copper cable theft, on Sunday.
A dog handler and his German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois cross were searching for four suspects when they entered a private garden and the boy was bitten.
West Midlands Police said it would carry out its own investigation.
The boy’s family said he had undergone two operations since the attack.
Tom’s father, Martin Cutbill, 40, said his son had bite wounds to his right leg, but he was now out of hospital and walking using crutches.
Mr Cutbill, of Rowley Regis, said: “There were quite a few puncture wounds and tears to the skin.
“He’s had two operations, one to clean up the wounds to stop the risk of infection and the other one to seal the wounds.”
Following an independent assessment, the dog handler and the dog continue to carry out regular duties, the force said.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission has been informed.
Ch Insp Ian Marsh said: “We apologise unreservedly for what has happened.
“Police dogs and their handlers receive intensive training and play crucial roles in the arrest of suspects day in day out, but on the very rare occasions where things go wrong, it’s vital we understand why and learn the lessons to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
The incident happened at about 15:00 BST on Sunday after officers responded to a report of four men stealing wiring on Western Road, near Langley Green railway station.
A nearby resident described the attack as “disgusting”.
She told BBC WM: “Are they going to put the police dog down? This is what we want to know.
“At the end of the day they’d do it to a normal dog so why not a police dog?
“My grandkids are always in this garden.”
My Take On This Story
This case could cause something of a dilemma. As an expert witness under the 1991 DDA, I am well aware of what constitutes an offence under the DDA (Dangerous Dogs Act 1991.)
In this case the handler, could be charged with being in charge of a dog that was dangerously out of control in a public place.
Now some may say that because the dog is in a private garden, then it hasn’t committed an offence. However under current law if the dog had not been invited in to that private garden, then it becomes a public place.
That could result if taken to court, with the handler receiving a fine or prison sentence and a criminal record.
The dog, a Belgian Malinois x German Shepherd, could be ordered to be euthanised or alternatively, neutered, tagged, and kept on a muzzle at all times when with the general public.
That would effectively neutralise the dog as a Police Dog. What concerns me it these dogs are normally kept in control with the use of a long lunge type or tracking lead. Why wasn’t the garden checked before releasing the dog?
The responsibility is clearly on the handler, to make sure innocent members of the public are not attacked or intimidated by the dogs they have responsibility for. A person does not have to be bitten for it to be an offence to be charged with being in possession of a that is dog dangerously out of control in a public place.
It is not the owner that is automatically at fault, it is the person who is charge of the dog at the time of the offence. I could be a friend, a dog walker or in this case a Police dog handler. Any dog is deemed to be dangerously out of control if it injures a person, or it behaves in a way that makes a person worried that it might injure them.
The law is shortly to change. Making it an offence to own or be with a dog that is dangerously out of control in a private place. Once again the dog does not have to bite.
The Courts and the Police have been told to come down hard on any dangerous dog cases, due to recent attacks and bad publicity. Therefore may I respectfully suggest you put something in place if you think your dog may fall foul of this law. If your dog is aggressive either indoors or out then contact a behaviourist or qualified trainer, who is versed in dealing with aggressive behaviour.
In the meantime, I will be very interested in the outcome of this case.