Angela McGlynn, whose son John Paul Massey was mauled to death at his grandmother’s house in Liverpool three years ago, said too many people think “my dog’s not like that”.

Giving evidence to MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into dog control and welfare, she also called for legislation to be extended to cover dog attacks on private property.

Ms McGlynn said some owners treated their dogs more like a child and were not aware of the dangers posed by dogs that are not regarded as dangerous under the law.

“People aren’t being made aware of the other breeds of dogs that are attacking. It’s not just pitbulls,” she said.

She said that the incident involving her son was “partly down to ignorance” because she had only previously heard of children attacked by pitbulls that were trained as fighting dogs.

“That’s why we thought my dog’s not like that – the typical thing that people say, ‘my dog’s not like that’ – and didn’t know it was a pitbull. So I think there needs to be more awareness of their breeds,” she told MPs.

Ms McGlynn has campaigned for tougher controls on dogs since her son was killed by a dog, which later turned out to be a pitbull after being tested, which was owned by his uncle.

The postal workers’ union called for an urgent overhaul of the legislation, saying the Dangerous Dogs Act was “totally ineffective while more than 4,000 of its members were attacked every year.

David Joyce, national health and safety officer at the Communication Workers Union (CWU), told the committee: “Current legislation goes nowhere near dealing with the problem. The age old cartoon image of the postman being chased down the garden path being snapped at by dogs is no joke – in reality it’s a very serious and very dangerous situation.”

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