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23 March 2007

Dangerous Dogs or Dangerous Owners?

I have just watched the Tonight program on ITV which was all about the failings of the dangerous dogs act and the recent amnesty in Merseyside. Typically enough, this program, like all the others I have seen on the subject, has completely missed the point. No one ever seems to ask the question "Why are these dogs the way they are?" Instead there is this big label placed on the breed or breed type as if it was something genetic. Well it's not. The dogs that have attacked people did so because they had been brought up and trained by either violent or incompetent owners. Until the law focuses on the owners and not the dog breed it will always be a shambles. I have known several pit bull type dogs that have been totally loving and gentle. They are not my preferred breed but I have nothing against them. The problem is a large proportion of them are owned by people who either want a dog to boost their macho image or want one specifically for dog fighting. What hope have the dogs got?
Dogs only know what we teach them. Placing the blame on the dogs is a cop out when it is the owners or trainers who must take all the blame. These people should be banned from ever owning a dog again.
I felt really sorry for the families in the program who had their innocent dogs removed from them on the suspicion of them being pit bull type breeds. OK so they got them back after a lengthy court case because they were able to prove they were well trained and safe but the law dictated that these dogs had to remain muzzled and on leads when ever they were in public. How ridiculous is that? Some perfectly safe dogs are now to be treated like they're insane. One of these dogs was an American Bulldog, looks like a boxer but the size of a mastiff. Such a dog would require loads of exercise which it simply can't get on a lead. Keeping a dog well exercised is one way of reducing its stress. The other problem with keeping dogs on leads is that dogs are more likely to attack if they are on a lead than if they are free. This is because when a dog is on a lead it feels trapped so if something happens that unnerves it instead of being able to get out of the way and avoid confrontation it is forced to defend itself.
I know, without a doubt, that I could raise a pit bull type dog from a puppy in such a way that it would be as trustworthy and friendly as any other dog.
The dangerous dogs act was written by people who clearly didn't understand dogs and were too frightened to lay the blame where it deserved to the feet of the owners.


A Margarita said...

The outrage! Poor dogs. They're like children, but like children, people aren't screened before they become parents or dog owners.

Sally T said...

Quite right. Dogs, like humans, have to be taught right and wrong. In the wild this would be done by the older pack members but in a domestic situation this responsibility falls to the owners. I believe the law should stop targeting breeds of dogs and start targeting irresponsible dog owners.