Monday, 30 November 2009

Dangerous dogs?

I once had a young woman call me asking if I had any Bull Terrier puppies left. She told me she was 19 and 5 months pregnant. I asked her if she had any idea what she would be taking on and she replied that her boyfriend had ‘once owned one’. Really! She just couldn’t understand that having and raising a child is one of the hardest challenges in life and taking on a puppy at the same time is ridiculous. Needless to say, I pointed out that I wouldn’t be letting her have one of my babies. I know for a fact it wouldn’t be her baby that suffered when things got tough.

Far too many kids (that have kids) buy this type of dogs as a status symbol. They have no idea how much work it takes to raise the dog to be a stable, well balanced and enjoyable part of the family. They think they can take it home, feed it, chuck it outside to do its business twice a day and Bob’s your Aunty.

They don’t think about the mess they have to clear up, whether it is the pup being sick, doing its business on your brand new carpet, or the flowers it chews, ornaments and newspapers they decide to shred. They don’t think about the table leg being gnawed at, or the brand new leather suite that is ripped to bits and the stuffing pulled out while they’ve nipped to the corner shop.

A puppy is like a child. It has to be told what is right and what is wrong. And there is a difference between educating an animal and beating it. In my experience you have to catch the dog in the act. It’s no good after the fact because they have no idea why you are punishing them and it would only become confused.

Repetition is the key. You have to be consistent and firm in your actions in the same way you would with a child; shouting, hitting or kicking is definitely not the way to go. Some think that by terrorising the dog it will behave. WRONG! You are just adding to the problems and at some point it will come back and bite you in the ass. Literally!

Now, I am no expert on dogs, but I have been brought up with them and have never been without one. To me, life without my dogs would be unbearable. They are my constant companion. They know when I’m sad, happy, ill; you name it, they know it and they act on it.

And now for the reason I’m writing this article.

In the early hours of this morning, a 4 year old boy was attacked so ferociously by a dog - reported to be ‘pitbull type’ - as his grandmother babysat, that he died before the ambulance arrived. The grandmother was also injured as she tried to protect the little boy.

A neighbour said: 'The barking started last night about midnight. It was very, very loud and drowned out the noise of all the traffic from the main road. I heard the police sirens a short time later and looked outside my window and saw an ambulance. They are a lovely family, very close to each other and he was a lovely little lad. You would see him with his grandmother on the street and he always looked happy and smiling.'

The family's parish priest, Father Peter Morgan, of St Anne's Church, Wavertree, left the house saying: 'There is an awful lot of pain inside. They are broken, it is so, so sad.'

While we don’t know the circumstances surrounding the incident, we can only wonder as to why the dog attacked and our thoughts and prayers go out to the little boy’s family.

Every time a story like this appears in the news, the usual dog-haters come out of the woodwook and call for the culling of dogs. I am sick and tired of people calling for them to be banned, especially when it comes to more powerful dogs.

Because of this I'm going to show you a list of the top 10 most aggressive dogs:

  1. Dachshunds
  2. Chihuahua
  3. Jack Russell
  4. Australian Cattle Dog
  5. Cocker Spaniel
  6. Beagle
  7. Border Collie
  8. Pit Bull Terrier
  9. Great Dane
  10. English Springer Spaniel

Surprised? I'm not. My daughter had two Chihuahuas and I can tell you that if they had been bigger they would cause a hell of a lot of damage.

Instead of banning dogs, bring back the dog licence and make it compulsory for yearly behavioural checks. This would uncover any undesirable behaviour at an early age which could be rectified. It would also ensure that the owner is a responsible handler.

Don’t leave your child alone with a dog. No matter what size the dog is, it can and will bite.

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