A couple of items in the news today about dog attacks:
Melbourne’s Age newspaper reports this morning that an 11 year-old boy was mauled by two dogs in Far North Queensland. Unfortunately this is an unremarkable story, except of course for the boy and his family; as well as the dogs (who will be ‘destroyed’) and their owner.
Which brings us to the other, more encouraging story – ABC online reported yesterday that “The New South Wales Government is shifting its strategy on controlling dangerous dogs away from banning breeds to targeting individual menacing dogs” – surely a move in the right direction.
Blaming particular dog breeds for aggressive behaviour is ignorant and old-fashioned. Any breed of dog can be conditioned to behave well or badly.
Reducing the risk of dog attacks is really not rocket science – it’s just that governments are busy and it gets pushed down the list behind terrorism and everything else. There are just two things that would make a huge difference:
- Dog owners must be compelled – by law, and preferably through social methods like advertising campaigns – to keep their dogs safe.
- Kids need to be educated about how to deal with dogs. Most kids learn either that dogs are friendly (especially if they have a family dog), or to be feared. Neither belief is useful for avoiding or minimizing an attack. One visit per year by a behaviourist or vet to a primary school would be ample to educate kids sufficiently. This could probably even be arranged for free – as a marketing opportunity for the practitioner (I’ll give this a try at my step-son’s school and report back!). Or what about integrating it into the existing ‘life education’ curriculum (along with ‘say no to drugs’, healthy eating, etc)?
As a sidebar – parents of young children need to be reminded that they need to be supervised at all times. – Although I suspect that the very parents who need reminding are the ones who would pay the least attention to such a message.
Any other suggestions? Leave a comment.
…and of course HoundTV is getting involved too – our resident veterinary behaviourist Dr Jacqui Ley will reveal a few tips on preventing dog attacks for both dog owners and parents, on the show in a few weeks.
Technorati Tags: dog attacks, dogs, aggressive dogs