Councillor Kay’s Blog: “Our priority, however much we love dogs, must be to protect people”

Politics / Sat 23rd Sep 2023 at 12:29pm

HIS hair was black, in tightly curled with a tuft on top of his head and a flounce on his tail. Ben was a standard poodle; he was gentle, sociable, playful, intensely interested in everybody else’s food but his real passion was socks, the smellier the better.

Although Ben was 12 when he came my way, he was still optimistic, still prepared to go along with whatever the humans wanted. He was my close companion during lockdowns; he accompanied me everywhere; he was my unfailing, uncritical support. I loved him as did anybody who knew him.

Many, many Harlow people have dogs and for so many reasons. They’re super companions, they encourage us to exercise, they provide opportunities to interact with others, they can help children acquire caring skills, they can guide those who need that help, they can even rescue climbers in distress and sniff out perpetrators or drugs. They’re part of our lives now, seemingly indispensable.

It’s not all sweetness and light, though. Some dogs are not at all friendly: they’re downright aggressive. Oddly, the number of dog bites over the last 20 years has risen though the number of dogs hasn’t. In 2022, ten people died in England and Wales as a result of dog attacks. That’s ten too many. A gentleman died just last week in Staffordshire after being attacked by two dogs.

The Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (amended in 1997) states that it’s a criminal offence to allow a dog to be dangerously out of control in a public place or where it’s not permitted to be. (I’ve been reliably informed by a vet of my acquaintance that he has been called to households where people have given up trying to control their dogs, often corralling them outside in fortified enclosures.) Currently banned dogs, according to the 1991 legislation, are the Pit Bull Terrier, Fila Brasiliero, Dogo Argentino and Japanese Tosa.

It can be argued that no breed is inherently dangerous; the RSPCA says breed is not a reliable predictor of behaviour. However, dogs can be trained to be aggressive. In fact, some people keep ‘status dogs’ to impress or maybe frighten others. Breeding practices and effective training undoubtedly affect a dog’s behaviour. 

The XL bully, involved in recent attacks, is thought to be bred from a number of breeds; a fully-grown male can weigh more than 57kg. The government says it will introduce new legislation to make it an offence to own, breed, gift or sell an XL bully, while the UK’s chief veterinary officer advocates registration and neutering of such dogs as well as ensuring that they are muzzled and on a lead in public.  Our priority, however much we love dogs, must be to protect people many of whom are now fearful of venturing near large dogs. It’s a no-brainer.

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6 Comments for Councillor Kay’s Blog: “Our priority, however much we love dogs, must be to protect people”:

Kim Oconnor
2023-09-25 08:02:49

It's time we stopped blaming the wrong end of the lead.. know your dog, know his likes and dislikes. If you know your dog can be aggressive, why would you let of lead, why would you not muzzle... no this is bad ownership... if you teach your dog to defend or to quard then your teaching your dog to be untrustworthy, an untrustworthy dog is a temperamental one.. Bringing your dog to good training is the best way, teaching it to be loving and adored by your family is all ways the best way forward.

Bruce Downey
2023-09-25 09:42:04

This is a bit sexist, 🙄 from the comment above.. dogs are he & she.. 🐩 woof..woof.

2023-09-25 10:18:24

Yes dogs can be unpredictable especially in the hands of irresponsible owners but they are generally well behaved if their needs are met.There are two commercially available products out there that are legal to protect against dog attacks.One relies on high pitched sound and the other is an aerosol peppermint spray.Believe me they do work and saved my bacon a few times over a thirty year period as a postie.

2023-09-25 12:04:55

What I found quite striking about the recent protect our bully dogs protest in London is, the advice by the organisers to owners was not to bring their dogs. I can't be the only ones who have seen some of these XL and Pocket bullys around town, some with cut ears but mostly with young men who you wouldn't trust even if they didn't have a dog. I suppose it will now be down to what the ban involves and how it will be enforced.

Guy Flegman
2023-09-28 15:55:47

While I will agree often it is the owner that is at fault, some dogs breeds are fighting dogs and even in the hands of a good owner the animal can still become dangerous due to its breeding.

2023-12-16 21:09:57

Deal with websites that don’t monitor who they let on there pages to sell dogs, this helps backyard breeders. I often see dogs on there with their ears cut ( often done in the USA for dog fighting so they can’t grab onto it). If a dog has been maimed except for work or health related reasons it shouldn’t be allowed to be bred from, you should have a behavioural certificate for dogs prior to being allowed to breed from them. It should come from a registered organisation and should be able to be linked to there “breed certificate” for cross breeds /pedegree to confirm the behavioural status of there parents and so on. It’s enviromantal and hereditary reasons. All that’s being done is putting a plaster on a leaking pipe.

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