Published: 00:01, 14 June 2016
Dogs violently attacked humans hundreds of times in Kent last year, it has been revealed.
Officers were called to at least 597 incidents of dog attacks which resulted in injury last year, according to police records - an average of more than 11 times a week.
In the last month alone KentOnline has received reports of a girl being bitten near a school in Folkestone, and a pitbull-cross that attacked a one-year-old baby in Thanet.
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The news has prompted dog trainers to urge owners of canines who show aggressive behaviour to manage their pet properly.
Dog trainer Jackie Murphy, from Gravesend, has been bitten several times by dangerous dogs during her career, including twice on the leg and once on her arm.
She said: "I think there's been a rise in the number of people who actually own dogs, which may explain the figures. I also think sometimes there's a lack of training.
"If you are worried that your dog might be aggressive, the key thing is to speak to a qualified expert.
VIDEO: Nearly 600 dog attacks recorded in Kent last year. Sarah Boast reports
"To manage the dog, the key thing is to make sure the dog is kept on a lead, and that it is suitably muzzled."
The number of dog attacks recorded by Kent Police has increased hugely over the last five years, after just 19 incidents were recorded by police 2011.
The massive rise is thought to be largely due to changes to the crime recording practices of Kent Police and tougher legislation surrounding dangerous dogs.
This year, the attack rate could be set to dip. So far there have been 102 recorded injuries caused by dogs - around four per week compared to 11 per week in 2015.
Sgt Ian Warner, of the Kent Police Dog Unit, said he accepts that there may have been a "marginal increase" in these crimes, but added that NHS figures also show that Kent has one of the lowest number of admissions for dog bites in the country.
He said: "I think there probably has been a marginal increase, and it's no secret that government have concerns around dog attacks and dangerous dogs within the country.
"The biggest reason for us having dangerous dog incidents is because owners aren't appropriately looking after their dogs" - Sgt Ian Warner
"11 per week for the force might seem high, but if you put that into some form of perspective, it isn't a huge number.
"It's right to say that most dog attacks are actually fully preventable, and it's the owners of those dogs that are responsible.
"The legislators have recognised that, with the increase in sentences including up to five years in prison."
The Dangerous Dogs Act allows police to seize a dog that is dangerously out of control at the time officers arrive. They may also seize after the incident following a warrant granted by a magistrate.
Sgt Warner added: "The biggest reason for us having dangerous dog incidents is because owners aren't appropriately looking after their dogs.
"We must continue to put that message out there that we are safely looking after dogs."