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Throwing Out the Puppy With the Bathwater???

I read the article below in last Saturday's (Valentine's day, of all days) UK Times. I found many of the author's points not only valid, but sometimes poignant. I am both lover of humans, especially children and of dogs, almost all dogs. While we are staying in this campground with rather tight quarters and RVs "cheek to jowl" as the Brits euphamistically put it, I have dog concerns. Often people get into RVing so that they can travel with their pets. There are lots of people here with big dogs, sometimes more than one. I often see other dogs being walked. Every so often I see some, often elderly/older woman or man, go flying by my window holding the end of the leash being pulled top speed by an out of control large dog. The human has neither the control nor strength necessary. It gets really scary when I've got fifteen pound Taffy (whom I can hold back physically even if she is a pain in the arse) and the dogs start barking and lunging at each other. I have this device on Taffy because she used to pull me like those big dogs pull their owners. Even at fifteen pounds, when she pulled she was hard to control so I can only imagine what holding the leash of those big dogs is like. Some campground prohibit certain breeds. Some have weight restrictions.

I am aware of the "There are no bad dogs just bad owners" philosophy. I used to believe it, but I don't any more. Or maybe what I really believe now is that "bad" is a perjorative descriptor; perhaps, "potentially dangerous" is a better descriptor. The other day we were waiting our turn at the vet's, sitting in the reception area, when the door to the exam rooms area flew open and a huge pit bull flew out followed seconds that seemed like hours later by a slight young woman dragged along at the end of the leash. That woman had absolutely no control over that dog. Taffy was so traumatized she wet the floor and I was close to doing the same. Fortunately, that huge dog shot straight for the counter, stood up on it's hind legs and starting inhaling the basket of biscuits on offer there rather than Taffy, John or Me. So it was OK, but I have absolutely no doubt that if the Pit Bull had decided to snack on us rather than free holistic dog treats, there would have been no stopping it The owner couldn't even pull it's head out of the biscuit basket until it had slobbered over and eaten every last free biscuit. Then, and only then, did it stand down. The owner had to use two hands to drag it out the front door screaming, "C'mon let's go bye-bye" before tricking that monster to go out the office door and jump into in her car so she could return to the office to pay her bill.

After the fiasco was over, I complained to the vet about the incident. She said, "Well, we try to avoid incidents like those by bringing one dog back into a room before the other dog leaves its examing room. In this case the owner opened the door too soon and the dog dragged her to the front." This is exactly my point...screw-ups happen. Large dogs, I don't care the breed, can seriously injure and in fact, are sometimes capable of killing humans, adult humans as well as children. We've all read of incidents. Taffy could nip and even bite, but I seriously doubt that she could cause fatal injury unless she induced a heart attack in someone.

I agree with banning dangerous breed dogs. I'm not sure how we decide which breeds are dangerous, but before another child dies, we need to do something. Legislating morality (like people not owing a dangerous dog because they think it's wrong to take the chance) or stupidity is a slippery slope to begin down for sure.  And yes, I am sure there are nice Pit Bulls and Rotties and Dobs, but there are thousands of other breeds physically incapable of causing grevious harm and injury to humans that provide all the "dogness" we humans crave. Why isn't that enough for us? Is it about who the dog is as a breed orhow the human wants to be perceived by owning a breed that can be potentially perceived as dangerous? Banning all dogs is going a bit far, throwing out the baby with the bathwater as we say over here.

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think....

From February 14, 2009

Enough whining. Ban all stinking dogs. Now

Man's best friends are no such thing. They are brutal, dirty and a primitive throwback to the days of bearbaiting

The death of Jaden Joseph Mack, mauled to death by two domestic dogs in his grandmother's home near Caerphilly last Saturday, caused a ripple of anxiety in some quarters, muted calls for stricter licensing of dangerous breeds, and that was about it. Move along now. Nothing to see here.

Nothing, except a human infant shredded to burger meat by domestic pets. My God, the fuss they made over Baby P. Over Maddie. Over Sarah Payne. Over James Bulger. When the boneheaded popular press can use a toddler's death to hammer such traditional bogeymen as paedophiles, social workers, “evil” young boys and invisible foreign ne'er-do-wells, it goes at it with a drooling, wide-eyed, sociopathic bloodlust, calling for hangings, sackings and ridiculous legislative upheavals. But when it's done by a Staffordshire bull terrier, the very breed of dog most likely to have been tied up outside the shop while its owner goes in to buy a “red top” tabloid, they have nothing to say.

And government is no better, to be honest. It is astonishing to think that when a fox is torn apart by dogs in a cold field on a foggy morning, Parliament devotes 700 hours of debate to stamping it out. But when a human child is torn apart by dogs in his or her nan's front room (it's always the grandmother - usually not much more than 30 herself), Parliament does nothing. Nothing.

Now, I'm never going to stop the right-wing media from wildly overreacting to child deaths as a way to excoriate the same old demons, but I can at least beg them, on my knees, to overreact for once to something I care about. And to call for dogs to be banned. All dogs. Now.

Anything less - outlawing breeds, renovating the licensing system, muzzling potential offenders - simply won't work. And the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act is, I am afraid, bunkum. It is concerned primarily with a lot of mealy-mouthed exceptions and exemptions that make it impossible to prosecute owners unless they are caught on camera with a Japanese tosa, deliberately feeding it live toddlers in front of a policeman and six witnesses.

The Act specifies breeds only ambiguously, and does not even cover Staffordshire bull terriers - the chosen legal street weapon of every pock-faced teenage stabber and crack-dealing hoody in the land - which were implicated not only in the killing of Jaden, but in the savaging of 22-month-old Kira Neal in Bournemouth on August 3, 2007, and of two-year-old Paige Allison in Blackburn on April 27 of the same year, and of two-year-old Joseph Johnson outside a fish and chip shop in Hull on September 17, 2008.

Not that a ban on “Staffies” would have helped 13-month-old Archie-Lee Hirst, slaughtered by a rottweiler at his grandparents' home in Chald Lane, Wakefield, the day after Boxing Day, 2007.

They've got to go. Dogs have just got to go. All dogs. Just to be safe. I'm not saying a spaniel represents a mortal danger to toddlers (indeed, if you shoot a toddler yourself then your spaniel will merely go over and point at it, and then your golden retriever will bring it back, and your dalmatian will bury it and then forget where it left it) but the problem is that owners will always get round breed-specific laws by crossing their murderous animals with others, as a disguise.

Germany, where the import of staffies is illegal, has shown us some of the way, and Israel has gone one better, making the breed illegal altogether - and I doubt there are many who flout that little law. You don't go breeding dogs to scare your neighbours when you know that one false snarl and a helicopter gunship's going to whoop into view, flatten your house, your nan's house and your local school, and then blame it on the dog.

And don't think for a minute that I would consider such a response disproportionate. I hate dogs. I am currently in the process of moving house purely and simply because my beautiful, leafy Camden street is the most turd-bespaffed thoroughfare in England. This is because I live down the road from a housing estate surveyed by CCTV cameras where the inhabitants know that if they let their little fighting dog uncurl a bronze they will be filmed and fined. So they come down the nice, middle-class streets purely to unload faeces. It seems almost a matter of honour.

These dogs get walked each day only for as long as it takes to smoke two Royals and gob a greeny at a tree. They don't even get as far as Hampstead Heath, only two minutes up the road (or perhaps they choose not to go there - the bien pensant middle classes with their wellies and labs having made of the Heath such a stinking dog toilet you'd be mad to cross it without an anthrax suit).

Every morning, on my three-minute stroll to buy a paper, I encounter at least three brand new turds, on my side of the street alone, glistening in the sun. When the snow was falling, and the street-cleaning guy couldn't get through, there were layers of turd interleaved with the layers of frozen snow like some terrible millefeuille of merde. And the thaw brought hourly uncoverings of newly revealed hound crap, kept fresh by the sub-zero temperatures, the goodness sealed in, the scent released gradually over the days.

Kill all the dogs. Kill all of them. I'll do it if you can't face it, and toss the rigid corpses on the fatty flames with a pitchfork.

For most of human history, dogs were needed. We bred them to do jobs we couldn't, or didn't want to do ourselves. And now we have machines. And don't bait bears. The keeping of dogs is a primitive throwback to a state of nature that was nasty, brutish and poo-smelling. It has no relevance now. We must grow out of dogs just as we grew out of horses (which was not, as many think, because we invented the car, but because we invented synthetic glue).

And please, don't come to me with dogs as companions for the lonely. Ye gods, has society sunk so low that we must leave it to stinking mutts to solace the old, the forgotten and the lost?

Some dogs may be innocent of killing. But all are guilty of crapping. When we were young, and one kid wouldn't own up to his crime, they kept the whole class in after school, regardless of individual guilt. My plan is like that, only with dogs. Except then you kill them.

I have felt this for a long time but always kept quiet out of respect for my many dog-owning friends. But the story of Jaden's death was so awful, so grim and primal and nightmarish - like a modern Little Red Riding Hood where the gran survives at the expense of the child - that I cannot tolerate delay.

And yet it will never happen. And poor Jaden will be forgotten. His little face will never stare up at you from the newspaper rack, above a headline telling you that the campaign starts here, and that he didn't die in vain.

And that is because unlike paedos and lefty social workers, dogs, through their feckless, simpering owners, really do rule the world

Reader Comments (2)

Like the new web site. Was at Janets when you phoned today

Love to both

February 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShirley

Like the new web site. Was at Janets when you phoned today

Love to both

February 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterShirley

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