Thursday, August 18, 2011

I wish that I knew the answer.

I like my blog to generally be a place of light-hearted fun,
maybe some inspiration of the crafting variety
and perhaps something here and there to make you think.

But I woke up this morning to another child's death from a dog attack.

This morning, as a mother to a 4 year old daughter,
not as a vet,
 not as an educated person having a rational thought process,
I said "I wish someone would ban those bloody pit-bulls"

My husband,
as a vet,
as an educated person having a considered opinion,
perhaps not speaking as the father of a 4 year old daughter,
said that is not the solution.

I have seen pit bulls during my career as a vet.
At least two.
Neither were anything more than friendly, non-threatening dogs.

I have been threatened at work by any individual of any breed that you could name...
Beagles, Labradors, Chihuahuas, Blue Heelers, Dobermans,
Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Poodles, cross breeds, Daschunds, White Highland Whites, Dalmations,
Cocker Spaniels.
Get the idea?

I could go on and on.
You name a breed
and you can find someone, somewhere, who has come across a nasty individual.

We are the owners of our second Staffordshire bull terrier.
We constantly defend our breed choice to people who consider Staffies to be dangerous dogs.
Neither our children nor anyone else has ever been threatened by her.

But my comment as a vet to an owner was always that
no individual dog can or should ever be trusted completely.

It doesn't matter what their track record is.
There could be some provocation that could make a dog hurt a person,
either accidently or on purpose.
You can find reports that state the higher incidence of some breeds' involvement in attacks.
While I believe this to be true,
then the question comes- do we ban all these breeds?
Do we get rid of German Shepherds? Rottweilers? Heelers? Bull terriers?
Where is the cut off point?
Where do you draw the line in the sand?
How many (reported) attacks need to occur before a breed is considered
inappropriate for location around people, around families?

And what consolation is it to you if you or one of your family members
are attacked by a dog that isn't considered a dangerous breed?

If you want to own a dog, be responsible.
Have common sense, chose appropriate breeds for your family and living situation,
desex and train your dog,
be aware and be proactive if you have problems.

Fighting dogs were bred to fight other dogs.
As good as our Staffy is with people,
we know that she doesn't get along with other dogs
so we never put her or ourselves in the situation where that is a problem.

Make dog owners aware of the consequences to them, the owners,
as a result of their dogs' actions and the decisions that they make as an owner.
Make them face the law.
Hold them accountable for their decision to own that animal.
Thinking about manslaughter charges might make ownership of that cool but dangerous dog breed
not quite so attractive.

No-one could tell the mother or family of that little girl a single thing right now
that could offer any consolation.
Even if that dog owner did everything he or she was asked to do,
it didn't protect her child.
Negligent dog owner or not, she has lost her child.

So the debate has started yet again about dangerous dog breeds
and responsible dog ownership.
As a mum or a vet or a person debating the issue,
I don't know what the right answer is
because I know how I would be feeling if my family
was threatened or hurt by one of these dogs
that shouldn't be anything but locked up securely on their property in the first place.
So I find myself asking if it should be there at all.


MissGinger said...

It is such a dilema. You may have seen from my post that i am dog mad. before we got our lovely Frank (still wouldn't leave him alone with small children) we had a dog from a rescue centre. She was a mixed breed and could not be trusted. We went through 5 different dog trainers, she couldn't be of lead ( which meant she never burnt up the energy she needed to) Everyone wanted us to get rid of her, but she was so lovely with us. But then she killed my lovely cat that i had had for ten years. They slept together every night, and i will never know what made her 'turn'. It broke my heart but she went back to the rescue centre. I completely agree with you, ALL dogs can turn, and should be treated so, especially certain breeds. xxx

Posie Patchwork said...

I was wondering what your opinion would be Dr Tas, thank you. As the proud owner of a 2nd German Shepherd & mother of 4 children, yes we love our puppy to pieces, but sure, never wholly trust them, even with older children, they are 'animals' & who knows what could spook them, or make them suddenly turn & bite. Our very big breed German Shepherd is very serious & protective, but spends his days chasing butterflies, he's so patient with the children & genuinely scared of small dogs, go figure, it takes all types. It's the most horrible story or event to happen, a child killed by a pet, simply horrible. Love Posie

Nikki said...

Very interesting to hear your thoughts as vet, dog-owner and mother. I'm afraid I'm only a mother who is terrified of big dogs.... so no insights here, just emotions and irrational fears.

My heart just breaks for the mother of that child and others who have experienced such a tragic loss.

Love a Duck! ( Partito y Monito) said...

I thought exactly the same. Ban those bloody pit bulls. But you're right. Any breed can turn. And just because I don't like the look of certain breeds doesn't mean the cute fluffy ones can't attack too. Give me a cat any day.

A terrible tragedy for that poor family to have to suffer. I can't even begin to imagine the horror of seeing what they did.

Drewzel said...

I agree it's a tragedy for the family, I can't comprehend.

But to say ban all pit bills is like saying ban all car driving because of the actions of a one driver killing someone. It's ridiculous.
I'm a staffy owner and never had problems with my dog/s, but it's only responsible to err on the side of caution in all interaction with other dogs/kids/people in general. I have no answers, I just don't believe in a hysterical witch hunt.