New, Taking the Lead campaign to improve safety around dogs

24 July 2023 5 min read

Taking the Lead, a campaign to improve safety around dogs has been launched in Sefton and across Merseyside today.

Safety tips and advice

By providing important safety tips for dog owners and advice for people who come into contact with dogs, Taking the Lead aims to reduce the likelihood of dog bites.

Sefton Council and other council have joined Merseyside Police, Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership (MDSP), the Blue Cross, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, University of Liverpool and Royal Mail to support Taking the Lead.

Over the summer holidays Merseyside Police and campaign partners will be posting a series of informative and useful videos to help educate dog owners about looking after their pet, especially around children. They will also be taking the opportunity to speak to people in parks and other public places over the summer.

Increased risk

Police data shows that children under 16 are most likely to be the victims of dog bites. Also, this risk increases significantly in the summer when more children are at home with their pets or around other people’s dogs and are also spending more time in public spaces.

Although parks and beaches have been identified as hot spots for incidents, dog bites can happen anywhere, and most bites occur in the home.

Knowledge and skills to stay safe

Inspector Katie Wilkinson said: “We know that during the summer holidays, when children are spending more time at home, the number of dog bites increases.

“By running the Taking the Lead campaign as the schools break up, Merseyside Police hopes to give children and parents the knowledge and skills to stay safe over the six week holidays and in the future. This will help to reduce the number of youngsters hurt by dogs and improve their understanding of dogs and their needs, regardless of their breed or size.

“We are determined to reduce the numbers of children and adults in Merseyside being hurt by dogs. It is crucial that we educate youngsters at an early age about how to be around dogs.

“Some of our simple messages includes not bothering dogs when they are eating their dinner or when they are sleeping and not approaching a dog you don’t know.”

Great relationship can go wrong

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “For the vast majority of the time dogs are, as the old saying goes, our best friends.

“Sadly though, there are occasions when that great relationship can go wrong, which is why Sefton is signed up to the Taking the Lead campaign.

“Taking the Lead will provide dog owners with expert tips to controlling their dog and protecting others in public spaces as well as giving people coming into contact with dogs, valuable advice on understanding behaviour and actions that may trigger  an aggressive response.”

Think before buying a dog

Another key focus of the Taking the Lead campaign is advising people to think before they buy a dog and research the breed characteristics to make sure they can provide that breed of dog with the right home setting.

When finding the right dog for their home, people are advised to check organisations such as the Dogs Trust website at for advice. Organisations such as the RSPCA - - can provide information on finding a good puppy breeder.

The police and the Merseyside Dog Safety Partnership are also concerned about the breeding of large bull breeds by unlicensed breeders who sell them as status dogs instead of pets.

Unregistered breeders

These breeders are unregistered, and the dogs and puppies are often badly treated. They are then placed into homes that are unsuitable for their size and this poses significant risks to the people who live there.

Inspector Wilkinson added: “We understand there are a lot of dog owners who don’t have the right home for larger breeds of dogs.

“This is particularly the case for XL Bully type breeds. These dogs are becoming increasingly popular, but many owners don’t have a suitable home due to their size and they don’t provide the dogs with the right exercise and training.

"I would also urge people to contact police on 101 if they have any concerns about dangerous dogs in their area. Residents should be able to feel safe in the community and if they do raise concerns about dogs then these will be fully investigated. People can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111."

Find out more about the Taking the Lead campaign.

You can use this link to contacts and find out more about Crimestoppers

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