Responsible Dog Ownership

For the last 24 hours the news has been full of reports of the death of a 15 year old girl; Jade Lomas-Anderson,  in Wigan.  Jade was attacked by dogs whilst staying at a friend’s house. Jade was apparently home alone with her friends dogs at the time of the incident. The reports also state that she was eating a meat pie and that only 4 of the 5 dogs in the house were involved – however I am not sure how this information has been confirmed if she was alone? I am currently unable to find any information with regards to the breed of the 5th dog.

The more I hear and read about this, the more difficult it becomes to comprehend. How can something so tragic and horrific be allowed to happen?

I have always been horrified at how easy it is to own a dog. You only need to look at the number of rescue centres all over the country to see how lightly some people take this responsibility.

Dogs are hard work. Especially larger dogs and certain breeds. The dogs involved in this incident were Bull Mastiffs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers – these breeds are notoriously difficult to handle. With the right handler, they can be great dogs, but if the handler isn’t present any dog can become unpredictable.

All dog owners should be responsible for their dog’s actions. Time and energy needs to be spent ensuring they are trained and socialised and have an understanding of what is expected of them, whilst working with in your dogs limitations.

The fact that there were four dogs involved is even more worrying. With out their handler/owner present they will be more unpredictable as a pack. A responsible dog owner will know this. Even if they think there is no chance of their dogs attacking, it is not worth the risk and consequences of being wrong. Dogs are as unpredictable as humans… many times have you heard ‘I am so shocked, I have known him/her for years and never knew….’

I know to some it might sound over-the-top to say no visitors to the house unless the owner of the dog is present (and by owner, I don’t mean any family member, but someone with control that the animal respects), but I am afraid that if we keep these types of dogs domestically then that has to be the case. Visitors should also be told about the dogs before their visit and what is expected of them. Time should be put aside at the beginning of the visit to allow the dogs and visitor to meet (if the dogs are not kept separately) and anyone inexperienced, nervous or under 18 should not be left alone with them.

I really believe that it should be made harder to own a dog and that the introduction of the new legislation for all dogs to be micro-chipped is not even a drop in the ocean. Responsible owners and breeders already do this.

I would like to see the introduction of licences issued by the council that you need to apply for every time you get a dog. They should include home checks and contracts to have the animal spayed/neutered, micro-chipped and insured (this may also help put an end to ‘back-yard’ breeders). Maybe even attend classes or a workshop about dog behaviour as part of the process?

Owning a dog is a huge responsibility and shouldn’t be entered in to lightly. If you are not willing to put in the time and effort involved, please don’t mess up a perfectly good animal.

They didn’t ask to be domesticated!

deed breed

4 Replies to “Responsible Dog Ownership”

  1. I agree with much of what you say – especially about how it is too easy to own a dog. There should be a dog licence fee and the funding from it should be put towards proper supervision of ownership. But one of the current problems I think is that most people now keep pedigree breeds – many of which have issues. When i was a child in the 50s and 60s Pedigree breeds were rare in towns – people kept mongrels – which had far less health issues or personality problems. And pedigree dogs then were usually working dogs ie bred for their usefulness rather than looks. The inbreeding to achieve a “standard” has often bred out the “brains” and health robustness. When I have been to India the people have mongrels that live on the street – i saw hundreds and none of them were dangerous – most were approachable and those that were not ran away – they were never aggressive. I am not sure what you mean by ‘responsible breeders’ as I see the deterioration of breeds like the Alsatian (GSD) and especially the flat-faced breeds in recent decades as being down to mostly ‘reputable’ breeders. But one thing is for sure – if you want to own a large dog – you HAVE to accept the responsibility, – and that responsibility is compounded when you have more than one. Sadly responsibility is very difficult to enforce in an open society.

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. To clarify, I do not agree with a lot of the kennel club breed standards and believe it is more important to have a healthy animal than one that has been ‘designed’ . By ‘reputable breeder’ I mean those that ensure the dogs they breed from are healthy (some breeders of show dogs have openly admitted to breeding from dogs with health issues because they look good!), the breeder micro chips the dog to themselves and has a contract with the new owner that should their circumstances change they can take the dog back. They also interview prospective new owners, provide on going advice, set up owner-forums, contract the new owner to ensure spaying/neutering etc. As far as I am concerned, this can be for any breed or mix of dog. The important thing is that the dog is not sold/bred for looks and status regardless of the implications to health.
      Another problem is that a lot of people lack respect for dogs and do not see them as animals. How many in India were being over fussed/fed/wearing clothes/being carried? Is the reason they are better behaved down to the fact that they are allowed to be dogs without being forced in to something in natural for them. It is an interesting point that you raise with regards to your observation of their behaviour.

  2. Bring back the dog license. Too many people think their aggressive dogs are so great and something to be proud of. The woman who owns the dogs that killed this poor girl, has pictures of them on her facebook, saying how they are not good with kids and cats. Good on her for noticing, but she did nothing to stop that and did nothing to prevent this (crate anyone!) she just put some signs up saying beware of the dogs.. I own 2 dogs and I wouldn’t leave them with someone I knew wasn’t competent (a minor).. makes me sad that now these dogs are dead because she didn’t train them or socialised them. 😦 You should have to take a test before owning a dog.

  3. Too true Emma. It all comes back to the owner 9 times out of 10. Education is the way forward, but some people either don’t want to learn or already think they know it all!

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