My brother, who lives in the UK, received 30 micro-stitches in his face after being viciously bitten by a pit bull type dog when walking in London recently. He knew the owner well and had met the dog before. Having a large dog of his own, my brother did not approach the owner or dog in a way that could have been taken as threatening and was actually in the middle of friendly conversation with the dog's owner when it launched itself straight up at his face.
Luckily, the dog's lower jaw snagged under my brother's chin where although it ripped a nasty gash, it prevented the top set of fangs from leaving my brother blind in one eye.
It turns out that this dog had bitten before. Three times! On learning that my brother was making a report to the police about the dog the owner took it on the lam and neither have been seen since. So somewhere in the depths of England is a very dangerous dog and quite possibly an equally dangerous owner. Presumably the dog makes him enough money on dog fighting and illegal breeding for it to be worthwhile going into hiding.
If ever found, then I hope the dog is destroyed and the owner hopefully prosecuted to the limit of the law.
I am furious that this happened to my brother. I am angry with the dog's actual owner and the owner's girlfriend who was walking the dog that night. I am angry that had my brother been walking with his daughter, my twelve year old niece could have been maimed or even killed by this dog. I am angry at the dog who injured my brother and left him scarred for life.
So why, given this sad story, would I name this article The Dangers of The Dangerous Dog Act? Surely after what happened to my brother I would support seeing dogs like the pit bull and the Japanese Tosa stamped out?
The answer is because I am not angry at every dog who was ever born a pit bull. Nor am I angry at any other breed which has had the misfortune to be the current dog of choice for the malcontents and hoodlums that use and corrupt it to their own ends.
American pit bulls, Japanese Tosa, Akitas, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, which have all been classed at one time or another as 'dangerous dogs' are all excellent animals, when well bred and when they have stable and knowledgeable owners.What makes a dog dangerous is an owner that uses it like a weapon or an owner who through lack of knowledge fails to socialise and train the dog for whatever role it is expected to play in the society in which it is placed.
In the same way as no make of car is especially lethal to pedestrians but all makes of car can be lethal in the hands of a bad driver or a drunk, no single breed of dog is inherently bad while all breeds of dog are potentially dangerous.
The fact that these larger breeds can inflict more damage, more quickly and that they are seen by hoodlums as being the four-legged weapons of choice means that special measures should be taken to protect both the breed and the community.
By all means require competency tests, special insurance and licenses, micro-chip the dogs and hold the owners responsible for any and all damage plus fine them if these dogs are found alone in the street. Make it less easy to own a large breed. Confiscate the dogs and prosecute those who do not follow the guidelines. But please, don't buy into the breed specific fantasy. Blame the deed, not the breed!
The other side of the coin is that by labelling some dogs as coming from a dangerous breed, other dogs are seen as being safe or more stable.
All dogs are animals, creatures of instinct and reaction. Practically any dog can kill or seriously maim a child. By buying into the breed specific fantasy, dog owners feel secure in leaving their toddlers crawling about the floor unsupervised in the same room as any family pooch which just so happens not to have ever fallen foul breed specific legislation.
In many cases that is highly inappropriate. Jack Russells for example are great little dogs; full of fun and boundless energy. They are perfect in a household with bigger kids but not suited for families with toddlers. Just Goggle 'child bitten by a Jack Russell' and you will see what I mean.