Thousands hospitalised after animal attacks

21 Dec 2014

Alex Johnstone MSP

More than ten people a day in Scotland are admitted to hospital after being bitten or attacked by an animal, figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives have revealed.

Nearly three-quarters of the 10,953 incidents which occurred over the past three years were caused by dog bites, highlighting the problem of dangerous dogs being bred across Scotland.

The statistics, released through Freedom of Information, show that a range of different animals have been responsible for hospitalisations across the country.

As well as the 7731 dog attacks since 2012, one individual was hospitalised in the Grampian area last year after an altercation with “a crocodile or alligator”.

In the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, over the past three years, 41 people have been sent to hospital after being bitten by a rat.

In the Highlands, two over 65s were bitten by venomous spiders; two people in Shetland were hospitalised by cats; and in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, one man went to hospital in 2011 after being “bitten or crushed by other reptile”.

The annual trend over the last three years has remained relatively stable, with Glasgow accounting for by far the highest number of incidents.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Conservatives revealed more than 2000 local authority investigations were carried out into dangerous dogs, a doubling from the previous year.

Scottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said:

“Of course some of these incidents set out will have been the result of an accident or some kind of freak occurrence.

“However, the sheer scale of hospitalisations after a dog bite points to a much wider problem.

“If we don’t get on top of the number of farms breeding these animals illegally, and the increase in people owning them who clearly aren’t up to the job, this problem is just going to get worse.

“There will be other statistics within this that also cause concern, not least those people being hospitalised after an encounter with a rat.

“It’s important the Scottish Government takes serious action on dangerous dogs, otherwise it will risk it becoming a genuine safety fear across the country.”

Notes to editors:
Below is a table showing the number of dog and total animal attacks which caused hospitalisation across Scotland in the last three years. For the individual FoI responses, contact the Scottish Conservative press office:
NHS Ayrshire and Arran – 362 incidents (180 dogs)
NHS Borders – 98 incidents (18 dogs)
NHS Dumfries and Galloway – did not hold information
NHS Fife – 167 incidents (73 dogs)
NHS Forth Valley – 17 incidents (eight dogs)
NHS Grampian – 357 incidents (172 dogs)
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde – 7643 incidents (6708 dogs)
NHS Highland – 259 incidents (79 dogs)
NHS Lanarkshire – 201 incidents (109 dogs)
NHS Lothian – 541 incidents (375 dogs)
NHS Orkney – did not respond
NHS Shetland – four incidents (two dogs)
NHS Tayside – 1273 total (did not break down by animal)
NHS Western Isles – 31 incidents (seven dogs)
Scotland total – 10,953 (7731 dogs)
The Scottish Conservatives raised concerns about dangerous dogs earlier this year: