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Dogs and Denuncia; Conclusion

For the last two weeks, I have written about two example cases regarding pets that fell foul of the law. Whether owners receive a Denuncia because their dog barks incessantly or roam and foul the streets and they will not pick it up or their dog is aggressive and people are worried the dog may hurt humans or other animals. When people have to use the Denuncia system they are looking for some change that is acceptable to everyone.

The choices for owners are they can clean up after their dog, teach their dog to be quiet, keep it under control, or stop it being aggressive. If owners do nothing then they may find they cannot keep their dog or as for the Dangerous Dogs Act, they must keep their dog under very strict control that makes it almost pointless in having a dog.

Certainly, street fowling, barking and aggression are the main concerns but in all of these, there are degrees to how much a dog fouls, barks or the level of aggression, even to how much and why it bites.

Here in Spain if a dog bites someone, the doctors treating that person do not make an assessment of the case they simply inform the local town hall and a Denuncia will follow. There is no finger pointing or criticism intended. It is simply a dog that bites or in anyway injures someone or an animal they must register their dog as a dangerous and keep it under the strictest of controls.

If the dog is not a dangerous breed then it is possible to remove the Denuncia if a vet and a dog trainer confirm this. If there was a problem, the hope is they will have successfully cured it. I say hope because if the dog does have a problem what happens if the owners are not prepared to train or retrain their dog.

In advising owners as to what they can do or should do to solve a problem, I know of a number of dogs where the owners were happy to learn their dogs were not aggressive. It was only later I found that the owners never tried to socialise their dogs and so their dogs did eventually became aggressive. Just because as young dogs they were not aggressive does not mean they will remain that way when they grow up. If dogs are never socialised they will become protective and aggressive to others outside of their own pack.

Even if a dog does not bite often just by its actions people become fearful someone’s dog will eventually cause some injury if not to them but possibly injure someone else. It is times like these people feel they must act.

I hear from many people telling me of their fear of a neighbour’s dog and ask what to do. Again, it is open to anyone to initiate a Denuncia yet I am aware they are reluctant to do so but when all else fails or tempers are raised what else is there to do.

It is important that if we have a problem we do try to resolve it without becoming aggressive. I am certain the majority of owners are willing to help find a solution if approached in a reasonable way and with an understanding that we all have to live together.

If the owner is not prepared to do anything, then often tempers flair and using the Law is the only way of resolving the dispute. Certainly using the power of the law seems as if it is not conducive to good neighbourly relations but in a way, it can calm a situation so people can stand back waiting for a solution.

I do not have any criticism of this law though I cannot be certain each town will implement or enforce it in exactly the same way. The Denuncia system is there for everyone to use. Certainly stopping dogs barking or fowling in the streets or being aggressive is something we all wish. I do say everyone because even those owners who do have a noisy dog or do not pick up after there dogs or want an aggressive dog are also quick to complain about the same problems when it happens to them. Everybody wants to sleep at night, not stand in a dog excrement, or bitten by someone else’s dog.

Certainly, for the past two cases Javea Town Hall was very helpful to the owners. As the dogs were not on their list of dangerous breeds and the owners felt it was only an accident without any aggression then they suggested they should go to their vet and ask them for an assessment along with a trainer/behaviourist in order to confirm this. If from that assessment, the dog only needed retraining then providing, they are willing to make an improvement that can be verified then the owners do not need to continue with registration under the Dangerous Dog Act.

The law is there to work for all of us but I do remember a friend saying people can abuse the law. If they do not like the owner or their dog, they can complain to the Town Hall. Because it is possible to check and find there is no problem the Town Hall will soon learn to ignore such people in the future.

The reason I like this law is that if owners are not prepared to take up any necessary training or behavioural correction they have no choice but to continue to register under the Dangerous Dogs Act. If the problem was one of noise abatement or street fowling then again if the owners will not change then they could simply loose the right to own a dog. Whether owners are prepared to solve the problem or they do not the Denuncia system works one-way or the other.

Using this system is helpful to us all. Though it is governments that make the laws, if ordinary people actually sat down together would they not chose such a logical system.

The law is not there to pillory someone simply because his or her dog is becoming a problem. What it does is recognise that there is a problem and then let professionals like the Vets, behaviourists, and trainers analyse it to find an effective solution that works and is acceptable to everyone. Is that not what we all want?

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