NEW bye-laws over the control of dogs could be introduced in Birkenhead Park after a lurcher savaged a Jack Russell terrier so severely that its owner was landed with a £4,600 vet's bill.

Self-employed builder Leslie Whitaker was exercising eight-year-old Stitch and her sister Jack Russell Tasha in the park when the lurcher struck.

Emergency surgery had to be carried out involving reconstruction of the dog’s rib cage.

Stitch is recovering slowly but Mr Whitaker fears she could be in a state of trauma for months.

He said: "You go to stroke her and as soon as you go near her she starts screaming. She is my daughter Adele’s dog and she is just one of us.

"I paid the vet’s bill because how do you explain to a child that her pet has to be put down?"

Claughton councillor George Davies was so appalled by the incident that he plans to pursue the making of special bye-laws on dog controls through Birkenhead Park Management Board and the local authority. A new law would ban dogs from being led off the leash in the park.

He said: "This is not just a one-off. It is the latest in a series of vicious dog attacks.

"Lurchers are bred for hunting and to them anything small like a Jack Russell they see as prey like a rabbit or squirrel. In this particular incident Mr Whitaker and the lurcher owner couldn’t get the dog to drop the terrier.

"It only let go when a park worker rammed his litter picker into the lurcher."

Cllr Davies plans to raise the bye-law issue initially at the July 30 meeting of Birkenhead Park Management Board, of which he is chairman.

He said: "A lot of dog owners may claim their dogs are perfectly harmless off a leash. But how would we feel if it was a child that was attacked next time and we had done nothing about it?"

He intends to prepare a report on the issue for councillors on the local authority regeneration scrutiny committee to study.

The final step would be for the council cabinet and full council to support the introduction of new bye laws.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: "As the dog who attacked the other dog was not a banned breed not criminal offences under Section 1 of the Dangerous Dogs Act have been committed.

"However enquiries are continuing to establish if an offence of allowing any breed of dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place (Section 3 of the DDA) has been committed."

Mr Whitaker said: "This dog is a danger to the public and the owner has no control over it.

"A week after the incident I filmed this guy letting it off the leash in a play area without a muzzle.

"He encourages it to chase squirrels; it thinks the children’s play area is its killing zone.

"I couldn’t live with myself if it attacked a child and I had failed to do anything about it. I am so angry about this. It needs sorting out once and for all."