Thursday, January 04, 2007

Dangerous Dogs and the Pet Advisory Committee.

Not long ago I wrote a post about dangerous Dogs, after a child was killed by two rottweilers, this week a similar tragedy occurred as we all know.

We have some legislation in the dangerous dogs Act which was originally intended to protect us from dangerous Dogs but it doesn't go far enough in protecting vulnerable people.

I just wonder how many more times will we hear Dog owners bleat on about dogs not being dangerous in themselves and that their behaviour is down to how they are treated. Now most people I know are not rational and even-tempered under pressure and I have yet to see a pit-bull, Staffordshire, bulldog, rottweiler or Alsatian I would trust, so I think now is the time to tighten legislation either destroy dangerous dogs or separate them completely from children.

The sort of woolly thinking that really irritates me is typified on the website of the Pet Advisory Committee with this sort of stuff "PAC believes that any legislation should judge the individual dog by its deeds and not its breed. PAC deplores the introduction of new and draconian breed specific legislation in other countries and requests the government to vigorously object to the introduction of any such legislation by the EU." and this "Responsible pet ownership remains a key operational belief of this Committee"

Unfortunately pet-owners are emotionally involved with their pets, and generally probably not the best people to make rational decisions about their animals, just think how many of us have been pinned to the wall by some hulking slavering hound when visiting friends and relatives and being reassured this beast is just being friendly when clearly its out of control to any impartial observer or victim.

Since Roger Gale MP for North Thanet is one of the several vice-presidents, of the Pet Advisory Committee and I understand dog-owner himself I would ask that he and his colleagues reconsider the emotional stand that they seem to have taken, where individual dogs are judged by "deed?" and not by dangerous breed or type, using this sort of thinking you could look at a revolver or shotgun and say it hasn't killed anyone so far so why not just leave it on the mantelpiece in the front room.


  1. Hi Tony, I am also very surprised at these short-sighted points of view from reputable organisations regarding the DDA. Do they not do their research?

    Psychology suggests 40% nature/60% nurture. Genetics therefore play an important part in the make-up of a breed. Individual differences are negligible in comparison.

    What are these guy's doing?

    What are happening to our breeds?

  2. I'd be interested in seeing the research mentioned by 'Sue' as I am unaware of it and am constantly reading scientific papers.

    Actually, what is emotional is the reaction of the public whenever a horrific dog attack is reported by the media. Media tactics such as repetition, the inclusion of unrelated incidents, the 'what if' scenario ('what if a small child had been there instead of a cat?'), etc, etc contribute to public anxiety.

    In fact, serious dog attacks and dog bite related fatalities are statistically very rare. Children are 100 times more likely to be killed by their own parents than to be killed by a dog, just to give one small example. This does not make these attacks any less horrific but it does help to put things into perspective. It also speaks to the near impossibility of predicting them, especially as most attacks and DBRFs take place on the owner's property or adjacent to it and the victim usually knows the dog. No amount of legislation will address that.

    Rational people realize that it is impossible to predict the behaviour of a dog because of its shape, which is what breed-based laws attempt to do. There is always another shape and all dogs have teeth.

    Rational people also realize that while certain attributes such as physical characteristics, reaction time, sensory ability and inheritable disease can be passed through generations of mammals, complex behavioural characteristics are learned, not innate.

    Aggression, for example, is not an inherited quality. It is learned and perfected through practice. The owner who lets their dog get away with small things - not wanting anyone near the food bowl, maintaining control of a favourite chair, leaping at other dogs on the street, as examples - is teaching their dog how to succeed by using aggression. It always escalates unless it is curbed through training and leadership. Sometimes it is encouraged through 'training'.

    The best way to control idiotic dog owners is to actively enforce leashing, licensing and other bylaws with a zero tolerance approach. It's remarkable how a few stiff fines can bring unqualified people up to speed.

    There is nothing wrong with 'breeds', which are merely shapes of the same animal.

    There is something wrong with puppy farms, the easy acquisition of dogs by people who are not qualified to care for them and the lax to nonexistent enforcement of regulations.

    Politicians and others think that a breed- or size-based approach is a 'quick, cheap fix' for a complex issue. It is not quick, it is never cheap and it has been proven to be unworkable, ineffective and unenforceable in every jurisdiction which has made the mistake of going down that road.

    Jurisdictions which have substantially reduced dog-related incidents have adopted a zero tolerance approach to licensing & leashing and other fair, simple and universally applicable regulations. Revenue generated by licence tag fees and heavy fines against scofflaws have made these animal control departments self-financing and well equipped.

    It's win-win. I really wish people would get off the 'dangerous dog' bandwagon and start looking at ways to control dangerous owners.

    Committed dog owners have the most to lose when incompetent and criminal owners are allowed to proliferate.

    Your Friend in Canada

  3. First, Tony, using your logic all items should be banned. Cars, for one. Cars kill and maim more people in a year than all the dogs in the history of humankind. Alcohol, for another. How many people are killed or maimed, directly or indirectly, by drunks? Guns are not inherently dangerous, they are passive. Guns become dangerous only in the hands of humans. Tony, your fundamental argument is seriously flawed.

    Sue, what research are you referencing? I have not seen one scientific paper that concludes behaviour is 40% nature and 60% nurture, and would personally distrust any publication that came to such a sweeping conclusion.

    The answer, as always, is that humans are responsible and must be held responsible for their behaviour. People should stop casting about looking for something else to blame, and put the responsibility directly where it belongs. on the human owner. A dog's breed is irrelevant to its behaviour towards humans. The dog's owner is responsible for training, socializing and containing his or her dog. A responsible dog owner has a good dog. An irrresponsible or criminal owner usually has a dangerous dog.

    As with everything on this planet, humans are responsible for the good and the bad. Leave the good humans to live well, and punish the bad humans.

  4. Every time that i have been bitten by a dog the owner says that it has never done that before. And yet so many people walk without their dogs on leads saying "it won't hurt you" just before it bites. No wonder I am scared of all dogs whatever their type or size.

  5. It's getting very bad - hopefully something can be done about this as urgently as possible.
    I came across the website below, which covers the subject in more detail :