As a pet owner myself I am saddened when reading reports about dogs killed by other dogs. Is it that these attacks are occurring more frequently or are they simply being reported more?
In an ideal dog-owner-world all dog owners would be able to walk their dogs’ off-lead, anywhere and at any time but this cannot happen. Some dog owners are insistent on their dogs walking off-lead even though they are unable to control them and this is either due to selfishness or stupidity, or both.
I remember my parents owning a Boxer dog when I was a child. We were all returning home from a walk when a Staffordshire Bull Terrier charged at our Boxer, plunging its teeth into his side. It was recognisable as the same Staffie that had the previous week attacked an elderly dog over the road and seriously injured it. The Staffie had to be prised off our Boxer with a strong broom and our dog had to visit the vet. Nothing could be done about the Staffie as it prowled the streets and its owner was unknown.
Another occasion that sticks in my mind from childhood is the memory of a Rottweiler jumping into our back garden in an attempt to attack our Boxer.
As an adult I now own a Siberian Husky. He is walked under complete control and on a lead at all times in public areas. Not just because I fear that he will run and run as that is what huskies do, but also because he is an animal. He is a tamed animal but an animal nether the less. I would not leave him unsupervised with my nine-year-old son as soppy and daft as he seems.
I encountered a ‘pack’ of dogs being walked by a dog walker at a nearby park when out with my dog and son. There was a variety of dogs, Huskies, German Shepherds, Bassett Hounds and numerous others. Some were on-lead, some off-lead. My son was on his bike and my dog was on his lead. Half a dozen or so of the dogs ran over to us and sniffed my dog, which was fine, if not a little intimidating and ran off. Two Bassett Hounds ran towards my son, who was cycling some distance away, with one barking and jumping up at him which resulted in his leg being scratched. I had to shout at the oblivious dog walker several times before she called the animals to her. She then went on to explain that the male Bassett Hound had previously been run over by a bicycle and now becomes scared when he sees a bicycle. She didn’t respond when I replied that my son becomes scared when an unknown dog is jumping at him and barking.
On another separate occasion, we returned to the park with my son on his bike again. The Bassett Hounds struck again, circling my son and dog, barking, jumping and snapping. When I called over to the dog walker, a different woman this time, and asked her to move the dogs because of the male Bassett Hounds fear of bikes, she claimed no knowledge of such a fear.
During yet another walk we heard barking from within a walled garden area of the park and guessed that the dog walking pack were inside. Passing a short distance away from the entrance the two Bassett Hounds charged out, they must’ve sniffed us out. This time I was prepared and was able to stop them in their tracks with a firm “No” and an outstretched palm (thank you Caesar Millan!) They turned away and trotted back into the walled garden without as much as a bark. I doubt that I would have been so brave if it had been a different breed of dog.
Exiting from an alleyway beside a house with an attached garage, a Collie hurtled out from the open garage door, snarling, teeth barred and advancing towards my dog. Its owner had to hurry out and grab it as it was, predictably, unresponsive to the calling of its name.
The point I am trying to make is that maybe it is not just the so-called dangerous dogs that we need to be wary of attacking humans or dogs, but any dog. I don’t believe that keeping your dog on a lead means other dogs will feel threatened by it and want to attack it. I believe that any dog can be a threat, regardless of its breed but the level of damage inflicted is dependent on breed. I think that a dog’s behaviour is influenced by that of its owner, either on purpose or by lack of clear leadership. If a dog shows signs of aggression when out on a walk, this needs to be addressed before it results in a serious incident. If a dog does not return to its owner when called, it should not be off-lead in a public place. No amount of screaming its name will ever make it return to the owner if it is already in ‘breed’ mode. It must be remembered that a dog is, after all, breed first before pet name.