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Aggressive dogs should not even exist

On last weeks Mary Harboe show on REM.fm, she received a phone call from Eddie who said aggressive dogs should not even exist. At first, you might think this is a naive or unrealistic statement because dogs are naturally aggressive, or are they.

Unfortunately, the laws that govern dogs are so inadequately worded they have no real basis of control. If the current act intended to protect the public and reduce the incidence of dog attacks, then it has failed miserably. In the United Kingdome, the dog population is falling, yet the incidents of attacks increases.

The European Union received all the best advice on how to solve the problem, yet they discarded it in preference for those who wish to keep an un-regulated doggy world. The dog industry has a multi-million pound turnover, whilst employing millions of people. Any child killed is simply collateral damage to maintain things as they are. A small price to pay, or is it?

In addition, because the laws are so complicated, those that should enforce them cannot do so. The reason is that it requires specialist knowledge. For instance, can you tell the difference between an American Pit Bull and a pit bull like type of dog? Do you even know what each of the potential dangerous dogs looks like? Look at the number of supposedly banned Pit Bulls found in the Manchester area, once one killed a child.

At the moment, the dogs classified as dangerous are the Pit Bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Rottweiler, Dog Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, Tosa Inu, Akita Inu, and any of their crosses.

For added confusion, here in Spain, different towns have different lists of specifically classified as potentially dangerous dogs. In some towns, they have even added the German Shepherds and Dobermans.

Here in Javea, Winston is not a potentially dangerous dog. Whilst in Moraira and Teulada the police say, as he weighs more than 25 kgs, I should have him registered. The silly thing is that under the list for Javea, in section B, they have a description of dogs considered dangerous. The description fits almost any dog over 25 kgs and yet I know of no one registered under this section. If you think your house insurance covers your dog for aggression, you could well find the insurance company refusing to pay any claim because of this.

A further problem is how many dogs that should have a muzzle on when in public, do you see wearing one. Of those breeds, I have only seen three Rottweilers and one Pit Bull Terrier with them on in the last three years. Again, there seems to be a total lack of interest in enforcing the law until something happens. Even if the authorities do look at a situation, they often go away and do nothing.

I receive many communications from people complaining about dangerous dogs that escape and found running loose on the streets. Even though they should be either on a chain or in a properly enclosed space, they keep escaping. You may remember the story of an escaped Pit Bull trying to attack a child that hid in a car for safety. Just imagine what may have happened had the dog managed to gain entry. I suspect there are many near misses that do not appear in the news.

Governments say it is not possible to legislate for a uniform description of a secure area. Yes it is. If any dog escapes, then the confinement area is insecure and therefore the owner has breached the act.

Another excuse is that no legislation can foretell which dogs are going to be aggressive. This is why the act specifies only those breeds considered statistically more dangerous. There are far more Rottweilers and Pit Bulls that are sociable and friendly than there are that are aggressive. In addition, does the actual restriction of such friendly dogs eventually make them aggressive through lack of socialisation? This legislation of tarring dogs with the same brush because of the aggression of a few is incompetent. We all know that any breed, large or small, can inflict a lot of damage on humans or animals.

When drawing up the Aggression Laws, representations from the RSPCA, along with others, proposed an alternative plan of ban the deed not the breed. The consequence of what they were suggesting was that only when a child died from a dog attack, would it breach the act. I am certain the child and their family would really appreciate that approach.

Over forty years ago, any Police dog handler knowing his area, could tell you of those dogs that needed retraining. All they asked for was the power to force owners to correct their dogs. Not only the police, any vet, dog trainer or behaviourist could recognise dog aggression. However, even more importantly, any ordinary person is quite capable of knowing when a dog is aggressive. They may though misread some dogs as dangerous when they are not, but all it needs is a professional to check. If most of the populous can recognise a dangerous dog, why are governments getting it wrong?

Statistically about 60% of dogs are no problem at all. Such dogs show no aggression and are friendly and sociable. Therefore, are these dogs just acting normally or not? Others that do show some levels of aggression go to training classes or behaviourists for successful correction.

Sometimes a dog can have something genetically or medically wrong and no amount of retraining can alter them; Cocker Rage is one example.

Unfortunately, some owners simply do no training at all, or they train their dog incorrectly. The result of either of these can make them aggressive. Then there are owners who actually want an aggressive dog, though some are now un-naturally attacking members of their own family.

Would it simply be safer to treat all dogs as potentially dangerous? By doing so a vet, behaviourist, or trainer can offer regular temperament tests, recording the results on the dog’s vaccination certificate. They can also add when it has qualified at basic obedience at a local dog training school. Having gained a non-aggressive temperament assessment and a successful obedience test, an owner can then take their dog into a public area without the need of a muzzle.

Alternatively, if anyone does have dog aggression problems and will not seek help, then they must treat their dog as potentially dangerous, with all the restrictions that entails.

To accept aggression as being normal for a dog is incorrect. If that were the case, why do we have so many docile and friendly dogs in the world? In addition, when any dog does show problems of aggression how is it that qualified professionals can cure them. If you accept these two statements then surly Eddie saying, “Aggressive dogs should not even exist” is very true.

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