The recent BBC news article detailing severe personal injury sustained by a banned breed of dog, (pit bull terrier) brought back to the limelight the question we’ve looked at before- what is a dangerous dog?
My own dog is a Shar Pei and is often ostracised in my local park by both four legged peers and their owners. He portrays a dark and mean exterior when he is in fact a big softy more likely to lick someone to death than bite them. The fact that his “sister” Pixie – a small cute looking Chihuahua- is just as likely to cause injury doesn’t register – I’m sure lots of postmen would agree that even though a dog can look cute they all still bite!
Indeed, no dog is born aggressive – when is a puppy not cute and cuddly? But would that extend to pit bull terriers? I suspect it’s the owners who breed such dogs for an income, something loosely termed as “protection” and for the abhorrent practise of dog fighting.
So what is the Government doing about these banned or dangerous breeds? According to new legislation which will apply in England and Scotland, it will be compulsory to microchip dogs from April 2016. Whether this will lead to a reduction in dog bites and personal injuries arising from them, remains to be seen but it does seem a sensible step to take. It could help reduce the number of lost and abandoned dogs too.
It is , of course, already against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control anywhere, including the owner’s home. These new laws are specifically designed to help prevent dog attacks. Maximum sentences have increased to 14 years for a fatal dog attack; 5 years for injury; and 3 years for an attack on an assistance dog.
Local Councils also have the ability to order owners of nuisance dogs to attend dog training classes; muzzle the dog or require it to be on a lead in public; require the dog to be micro chipped; neutered; and even force an owner to erect of repair fencing to prevent the owner’s dog leaving the property. Police and local authorities can also demand owners take action to prevent a dog attack. If the owners do not do so, they risk a fine of up to £20,000.
All this legislation is , in my view, moving things in the right direction.
In the meantime, all this makes me think of the internet sensation Fenton whose fame may have inadvertently caused an increase in deer deaths. Cute cuddly dogs are undoubtedly man’s best friend but only if man is a friend to them.