May 10, 2007

When do we start asking why?

At Yahoo news, there was a small story about a dog that severed a child's ear in Surrey, British Columbia, near Vancouver, last Tuesday.

The breed of the dog (Rottweiler) was mentioned five times in the tiny 160 word article.

Neighbours were reported as being "shocked" that a Rottweiler was living on their street, as if the dog were a convicted sex offender or mass murderer. One neighbour was quoted as saying, "If they've got Rotties here, we'd like to know since we live across the street".

When are people going to start asking why an attack happened, instead of just chalking it up to the type of dog? When are newspapers going to start including dog bite prevention tips, as recommended by the jury in the Courtney Trempe inquest and by the American Veterinary Medical Association, instead of just reporting the attack?

As someone involved in dog training and in dog bite prevention, it pains me to see comments like those above. This dog did NOT tear off a child's ear because it was a Rottweiler. A very small dog could do the same thing just as easily. Have you ever seen some of these small guys catch a squirrel or a rabbit? Not pretty.

This dog bit for any number of the following reasons:

  • Child in a friend's home. The number one scenario for dog bites, often because the dog is not used to children or is not used to that particular child or doesn't see that child as part of its pack;
  • Child petting a dog that (clearly) didn't want to be petted. Very common situation. Thank God most dogs let it happen without retaliating. In the dog world, an unsolicited approach is often considered bad manners, worthy of a reprimand (with teeth).
  • Older dog. Often older dogs have health issues, perhaps arthritis or an ear infection, that can cause irritation and pain.
  • Did the dog have a bone or a toy?

These are just a few of many possible reasons for this bite, none of which have to do with breed.

Statistics show that the vast majority of bites (and deaths) happen to a child under 12 in their own residence, a relative's residence, or a friend's residence and by every breed on the planet. Often, the child and dog are unsupervised.

A little common sense. A little reading on the Internet or at the local book store. A little recognition that a dog is an animal, not a human with fur. A little bit of admitting that your child doesn't know how to act around dogs or that your dog doesn't know how to act around children. A little brain usage, please!

One more scarred child. One more dead dog. Not because of the type of dog, but because human parents and human dog owners didn't use their brains.

-- END --


Anonymous said...

Chico, well said.

I am dad to 3 two legged kids and 4 four legged kids. I have an idiotic neighbor that for months said that if they saw an (American) Pit Bull loose they would shoot it on sight. He several times petted Flash, my APBT, and even once made the comment that "Isn't Flash sweet? What a gentlemen, not like those darned Pit bulls that we hear about."
I let it go and didn't bother to answer about what breed he was except to tell the retired fireman that Flash was 'just' a Terrier. One day when I was at the American Legion, the fire man was a guest of a fellow member and one of my Marine buddies asked how Flash was doing? I told him fine to which he loudly said, "Da@n, that was the scrawniest Pit Bull that we ever rescued." I thought my neighbor was going to have a stroke. When he asked me why I had never told him that Flash was a Pit Bull, I told him that I since Flash had been so friendly to him that I figured he didn't want to follow through on his threat to kill my buddy (dog). Amazingly, now this gentleman has now made a 180 degree turn about and tells people about how friendly Flash is to people.

I just wish it were that simple all the way around. One good thing, my once upon a time meddlesome mom stays away from my house. Her abject fear of APBTs will never subside saying that Pits are the devil incarnate - even though her llapsa-poodle mix was cited twice for killing rabbits at a neighbor's home.

Go figure.
Keep up pushing the truth!

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