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Friday, February 22, 2008

Why blame chained dog for humans' many errors?

Sadly, another parent has allowed a child to be bitten by a dog ("Dog mauls girl", Leader-Post, Jan. 21).

Could someone not stomach the fact that Lassie, the smart and gentle animal who saved little Timmy from harm every week on TV, could hurt a child? I have been teaching dog obedience and socialization for many years. I have taught dozens of breeds and thousands of dogs. I have been bitten and/or threatened by border collies, Chihuahuas, shih tzus, Labradors, schipperkes, golden retrievers, Australian shepherds, cocker spaniels, springer spaniels, poodles, terriers and Pomeranians. These are not breeds we think of as dangerous.

I have had one problem with a "dangerous" breed: A cross breed that had suffered a lifetime of abuse and neglect. Small dog bites are unlikely to require medical treatment, go unreported, and skew statistics.

While researching this letter, I came across a citation for an incident in which a Pomeranian, a two-kilogram dog, had killed a baby.

I recently saw a golden retriever/poodle cross that was, by anyone's definition, dangerous.

Golden retrievers? Dangerous?

Dangerous dogs exist, but dangerous breeds exist only in the imaginations of people looking for scapegoats.

Breed bans exist so that politicians can look like they are doing something while doing nothing useful.

News stories that alter the description of a dog from one breed to another only add to the hysteria and make it harder for responsible pet owners.

Any dog will bite if it feels threatened and can't escape. "Fight or flight" are its only safety valves. A dog that is chained cannot escape a perceived threat and is more likely to bite, no matter what breed it is, and no matter whether the threat comes from a child, an adult, or another dog.

Even "Lassie" will bite in that situation -- as the people in Delisle have discovered.

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