The death of Ava-Jayne Corless is the latest tragic case involving a child mauled by a dog. On a monthly basis, somewhere in Britain press reports record injury and on occasions the death of a young person due to the aggressive behaviour of a dog without the control of an adult.
Each year there is a call to do something about these events, but, with the passage of time, people forget and the situation remains unresolved. Dog lovers - and I include myself as one - are appalled by such incidents. Indeed affection for dogs sometimes gets in the way of better managing the situation - but we need to try.
Radio station ‘phone ins’ after each tragedy reveal the emotion held by all sides of this argument. Breeds of dogs, their location, the nature of their control or lack thereof, and irresponsible owners all feed into the debate. It is time to grab this matter and attempt to improve things. How can we do it?
In my view we need to bring together those people with an expertise in animal care and dealing first hand with dog attacks. Removing emotion from their discussions, we should push for a series of recommendations from them about several points:
The ability to identify a dog, its breed, breeder and the registered owner is seen by many as the first step towards managing this issue.
It is often said the problem is not with the dog, it’s with the owners. If true, we should consider that all keepers of dogs should undergo a training course before they are allowed to own or keep any dog.
There are many who lament the abandonment of licensing in this area. In truth the administration and oversight of such licensing was seldom done. The only owners who bothered with a licence were those who took ownership seriously, and the remainder ignored the requirement. If licensing was to be reconsidered, the administration and enforcement effort would require a serious commitment. Cost of licences would no doubt require to be sufficient to cover such efforts.
It is often suggested that all dogs irrespective of breed wear a muzzle when in a public place. Many commentators suggest, however, that this approach would likely encourage aggression in dogs. Though it would prevent bites in public areas, a muzzle would not prevent attacks at home (like Ava-Jayne’s) or in a private garden.
Removing the streets of strays will enable the authorities to focus on problem dogs.
Aimed at enforcement in regard to irresponsible ownership rather than focussing on breeds of dogs. It is argued that proving a dog belongs to a banned breed is often a near impossible task in court. Breeders can introduce new varieties of dogs to satisfy the demand for aggressive type breeds.
A review of the penalties attached to offences committed in connection with aggressive dogs.
All of these issues listed above are worthy of proper assessment, along with any other suggested options. We must take steps to prevent attacks on people, young or otherwise. To do otherwise is completely irresponsible.