MANY people have said they “know better” than the government but few have said the words with such resonance as Michael Anderson.
The grieving stepfather of tragic teenager Jade Lomas-Anderson has campaigned for changes to dangerous dogs laws since the 14-year-old was mauled to death by a pack of them a year ago today (WED).
The reverberations of shock created by news of Jade’s death were felt way beyond the Hag Fold estate in Atherton.
Her death — and several others since — have sparked a national debate.
Despite her being savaged while at a friends house by five rampaging dogs, who could only be quelled by riot police, no-one has ever stood trial for Jade’s death.
There is no law to prosecute owners for their dogs being out of control on private property, which has stopped Michael and Jade’s mother Shirley being able to achieve even the merest semblance of justice.
They are also keen to see more preventative measures adopted — stopping the mistreatment of young dogs early so they do not become dangerous.
Such attempts suffered a blow when an amendment, suggested by Bolton West MP Julie Hilling, to the anti-social behaviour, crime and policing bill was rejected in parliament in October.
It called for dog control notices, so officers could impose conditions on dog owners, such as muzzling or always using a lead.
To mark the anniversary, Mr Anderson said: “The government has tried to bring in changes but to our mind they do not go far enough.
“We’ve been down to London a few times and each time it’s as if they take something we’ve said on board but not all of it.
“I have piles and piles of paperwork on what has been going on around the country recently.
“The present government, they want to do it their way and not the way the families want it done.
“We should know what should be done, having gone through it all.
“It has been in the media, all the cases that have happened since Jade died.
“We lost our daughter. No-one else should experience the same thing.”
Only last month, 11-month-old Aya-Jayne Corless was mauled to death by a bulldog named “Killer” in Blackburn Also in February, a girl only six days old died after being attacked by an Alaskan Malamute in Pontyberem, Carmarthenshire.
Mr and Mrs Anderson have also launched Jade’s Campaign, which urges people to properly care for their dogs so they do not become a menace to society.
It started in Atherton in September and support has come from other organisations.
The Dogs Trust has set aside £6 million to micro-chip dogs in England and has set up a number of upcoming events with Bolton Council.
On Friday, RSPCA officers will help them in micro-chipping dogs free of charge at Moses Gate Country Park in Farnworth from 11am.
Similar events, also including responsible dog ownership education sessions, have been scheduled at Leverhulme Park and the Hatfield Road UCAN on April 11 and May 9.
But only parliament passing new laws will enable wardens to decisively tackle the issue of dangerous dogs.
Ms Hilling, who remains a staunch supporter to the Anderson’s campaign, said: “It is absolutely linked if a puppy is not socialised and badly cared for, it is more likely to become dangerous.”
Today, close friends and family will wish Shirley and Michael Anderson well and restate their condolences, which they will undoubtely be grateful for.
But what they desperately want are changes that will protect other children from suffering the same fate as Jade.
That fight goes on.