smallaggressivedogFor the last few years I have pushed  MP’s, Police, experts, DEFRA and Government via letters and meeting for deaths and serious injuries caused by dogs to be fully investigated. In the case of one tragic death of a baby caused by a dog, I had the support of the local MP and the child’s parents to assess the dogs and despite repeatedly asking the force involved to allow it, they held the dogs for a week, then destroyed them.  We learned nothing.


I’ve assessed dogs for court, many other behaviourists have too.  A few feel they have assessed the dogs fully, but sometimes they haven’t. What we really need to know is the dog’s life up to the point of attack.  Not a snapshot in kennels of who they are now. Police experts I have met with many times have supported what I think we need, but anyone in authority says we have adequate laws.  This isn’t about the law, it is about establishing how a dog gets to the point of killing or seriously maiming a human.   Unless we know this, we cannot protect dogs and people and punish the humans responsible.

To understand why these tragedies happen, we need to look at the dog and the owner and the life they lead.  Then combine this and look at authorities who have often already been involved with the dog and owner.  I’d love to see the first case where a council or Police Force was prosecuted for failing to protect the public by not acting on a report of a dangerous dog.

This is what I feel we should look at in these cases, once the dog is assessed in its current state:

  • Who bred the dog and what quality of breeder
  • Which rescue rehomed the dog and what assessments were done
  • If bought privately, how and where
  • Was the dog castrated or spayed and when
  • Had the dog been bred from
  • What training had the dog had
  • What sort of life did the dog have with the owners
  • What involvement had the dog already had with Council or Police
  • What is the health history and current health status of the dog
  • How many homes and owners has the dog had
  • How long had the dog been owned
  • Exactly what happened at the point of the attack

There are other issues such as the age and experience of the owner, level of exercise and other things that will be unique to each case and you then have information that might help in the future.  Was the dog alone with the child, did the child shout or scream and accidentally trigger something, was the child or an adult playing with the dog and so on.

There are a lot of people who believe, thanks to media hype, that Bull breeds, Rotties and Akitas are aggressive child killers.  But not dog professionals.   We believe these breeds, like any other, if trained and owned responsibly are fine.  We believe that bad ownership, lack of training, deliberate encouragement of aggression, ignoring of warning signs and abuse cause the problem.  But nobody is looking at this.  There is no actual evidence to say that dogs back yard bred, entire, untrained, not exercised and abused cause these deaths.  This is why we need this petition, because nobody will accept it needs doing.

My petition is for the creation of a team of a vet, Police officer and behaviourist who work with the dog and the family to discover the path the dog took to this terrible act. To show, as I expect it to, that there are some common denominators in these cases that should be used to educate and if necessary, to legislate on.

The role played by back yard breeders and bad rescues should not be overlooked either.   Unassessed dogs change hands all the time.  Read facebook and see the depressing posts about “I bought a dog off here yesterday and it’s growling at my kids/attacked my dog/bitten me”, there are plenty of them.  Endless pages of adverts for back yard bred pups, where any attempt to explain that selling them for £50 at 5 or 6 weeks old is both cruel and dangerous is met with serious abuse.

One day, I do hope that a back yard breeder, who bred a pup sold too young, in poor health, or a rescue that rehomed an unassessed dog and whose dog cause death or serious injury are also prosecuted. This does not mean that breeders and rescues should be blamed for idiot owners who haven’t followed advice, but irresponsible breeders and rescue should be held responsible for the outcomes.  There are more cases of this than you realise, facebook is good for letting people delete the truth about dogs they have sold or rehomed where their incompetence, selfishness or arrogance was the reason a dog bit someone.

Please help by pressuring your MP’s, Police and council to act.  We need to force discussion on this issue and not just keep the knee jerk reactions, prosecutions and dogs destroyed without a single thing being learned to stop the next attack.

About Safepets UK

Expert Witness behaviourist assessing dogs for court, treating cats and dogs. Covering Midlands to London and other areas.

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