A SENIOR MP has called for tougher punishments for dog owners whose pets attack other dogs as it emerged there had been hundreds of incidents in Sussex.

Former education secretary Nicky Morgan led calls for irresponsible owners to face the same punishments as those whose dogs attack humans or guide dogs.

Environment minister George Eustice insisted the powers were already in place to penalise such attacks, though acknowledged there were inconsistencies in how the laws were applied that would be reviewed.

Leading a Westminster Hall debate on the issue, Ms Morgan said 14 of 39 police forces responded to her freedom of information request about the number of dog attacks on other dogs that had been reported in the past two years.

“Between these 14, there were over 1,700 reported dog attacks on other dogs,” she told MPs.

Sussex Police alone recorded 828 such attacks in the past two years, and the force responsible for my own constituency, Leicestershire, recorded 32 incidents of a dog attacking another dog, and an additional 82 cases where a dog attacked both a dog and a person in the same incident.

“This is clearly very concerning and is important that police forces and local authorities have the powers they need to tackle the problem and reduce the number of attacks.”

Last year a Labrador died in Seaford after an attack by a bull mastiff/Rottweiler cross.

And the Conservative MP cited two cases in her Loughborough constituency where smaller dogs were badly injured by larger dogs that had been let off their lead.

She added: “It is very important that all dogs have the same protections and that local authorities and the police have the power to properly punish the owner of the dog responsible.”

Ms Morgan said that her local council believed a dog needed to be involved in three incidents before an owner could be prosecuted. She added that the rescue dog that killed four-year-old Lexi Branson in 2013 had previously attacked another dog.

But Mr Eustice said the so-called “three strikes” rule was not actually part of the law and recognised there is an issue which he was going to look at in regards to enforcement.