This will probably be, my first and last article I write on this subject because quite honestly, its enough to make a person pull their hair out, in frustration and disgust.
I am not going to get caught up in the fray and ramble on emotively, there are plenty of people out there, who without a doubt, are more qualified at emotive and unproductive rambling, than I.
The number of dog attacks/ bites have been slowly increasing over a number of years, there are many reasons for that, the theme however always seems to remain the same.
NZ has a spate of reported dog attacks/bites. Reports in the media usually lead to a feeding frenzy of emotive rants, raves & ideas on how to solve the “dangerous dog problem”. This theme seems to be repeated every time a serious attack story hits the media.
Common sense facts and solutions, are what is needed, not emotive rants and raves. I have been an advocate of dog safety education for all (children & adults) for a very long time and I have to say, “Lets get real, is the dog really to blame?”
When I refer to dog safety, I mean teaching both children and adults, how to act, behave and stay safe, when in the company of dogs, it’s about teaching and keeping both dogs and people safe. 77% of dog bites come from the family dog or a friends dog. stopthe77.com
Personally, I have found that most dog bites & attacks are caused by inappropriate interactions with a dog. There’s a real culture of “she’ll be right”, or “oh Fluffy wouldn’t bite – he’s bomb proof”. People are complacent and usually not aware of the warning signs.
Indeed in a recent online survey commissioned by Hon Louise Upston (associate minister of local government) which ran from 1st August 2016 – until 14th August 2016. The need for more education was indeed one of the things identified, yet it seems one of the last things on the “to do” list.
Yet, Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is often mentioned. For those of you who don’t know what BSL is, it’s laws or legislation based on the breed your dog is, or in some cases what people think your dog is if you’re not sure. Unfortunately, it’s pretty much a quick fix solution that worldwide, is known not to work! However, it has the potential to cost a lot of dogs their lives. So why look at adopting it? Is it to placate the uneducated & uninformed, while trying to curry favour, with the general public?
Why not, dare to be different, how hard can it be, to research and maybe try something new.
For example take a look at: How Calgary reduced dog attacks without banning pit bulls Briefly, they changed from the “standard animal control model” to a “responsible pet owner model” education is a big thing, all schools are visited every year, dog owners are urged to get training for their dog if problems arise and so on. Read the article, it is food for thought.
In a recent article published on Radio NZ web site 23rd September 2016 an article titled:
Dog law change would make dangerous breeds extinct in NZ :
Mr Les Dalton (Institute of Animal Management president) said the new measures were well overdue.
“It’s something that needed to be done. We’ve had far too many children being mauled by pit bull-type dogs and dogs that had the content of the wrong breed in them. Would you put your grandchild or little daughter or little son in the lounge with a pitbull and leave them alone with the child?” A very emotive statement, to say the least.
Maybe, Mr Dalton needs to be taught some basic dog safety education. You should never leave any dog, irrespective of the breed, alone with a child or even some adults for that matter. (dog safety 101, folks!)
All dogs can bite, even “GOOD WELL TRAINED DOGS” if they are teased, hit, abused or put in situations THEY find uncomfortable. People need to be taught how to act and behave when in the company of dogs. “All animals speak to us, including dogs, if we as humans, choose to watch, listen and learn”. Dogs need us to protect & respect them.
Having a well trained dog isn’t enough, basic dog safety/dog bite prevention, should be taught in all schools, while I know in some areas of NZ, it is being done. I am also aware “Funding” is an issue. If NZ wants to turn the tide and is serious about reducing the dog bite statistics, make the funding available.
The old saying, “talk is cheap, put your money where your mouth is, or shut the bleep up” springs to mind.
Now, this suggestion may or may not be popular and yes it will not reach everyone but its a proactive start.
How about anyone involved with dogs. All dog trainers, vets, pet shops and behaviourists hand out information and discuss basic dog safety and the dog control act with their clients? It’s easy enough to make up FAQ sheets or even print something off the internet and hand them out. I’d also be interested to hear from any trainer, club, vet who is doing this, apart from myself.
Also, rescues, SPCA, Plunket and the like, are on the front lines so to speak. It’s a great opportunity to educate your clients and help turn the tide.
Even “GOOD HUMANS” will react if they’re pushed, teased or threatened – so why do we put our pets in potentially life threatening situations?