Let the hysteria begin.
Initially I wasn't going to blog about this story, as it had been pretty well written about, but having perused a number of papers this morning I felt I should say something on the rising and tpyical hysteria in the meedja.
Ellie Lawrenson, five, bled to death in minutes after being mauled at her gran’s house in St Helens, Merseyside, on New Year’s Day, where she had been staying as her parents rang in the new year. At around 4:30 her grandmother heard her screaming and rushed to her. She found Ellie being savaged be a pitbull, Rueben, owned by Ellie's uncle. The grandmother, suffering sever bites managed to drag the dog off and lock him outside, but it was too late to save Ellie, the litte girl died at the scene from her injuries.
Right so. Horrific, disturbing, heartbreaking for the family.
But what have we got?
The sun- voice of the people that it is- comes charging with the screamer...'The dog that killed little Ellie Lawrenson WAS a banned pit bull terrier type, police revealed last night."
Okay, what does this mean exactly? A pitbull 'type'. Which type? Type usually indicates mutt to me. I.e not a pure bred dog. Are the sun advocating destroying all mongrels?
In the comments sections we have folk screaming for 'all' dangerous dogs to be destroyed.
Okay again, aren't all dogs dangerous in some way? If you annoy a Yorkie will it bite? Ever been been chased by an angry Westie or those vicious Kerry Blues? For that matter as I have said often here, I run in the park and am chased and snapped at constantly by Jack Russells. Should we destroy them as a breed? What about Dobermans? Are they 'dangerous' I had one, he wasn't. What about collies? I was savaged by one of them as a child, will they be listed?
Cippity clup, hot on the heels of the Sun come the Daily Mail...
"The owner of the pit bull type dog which killed five-year-old Ellie Lawrenson is a convicted drug dealer
Kiel Simpson, uncle of Ellie, was jailed for 21 months in 2003 for possessing 44lb of cannabis worth £24,000 with intent to supply."
OOOOOO, see, now we've got it down pat, he was a drug dealer. His niece is dead, his family bereft, what exactly has this got to do with the price of tomatos in Guatamala?
Then we have Lord Baker offering up his opinion. Lord Baker said the Dangerous Dogs Act, which he brought in as Home Secretary in 1991, had been watered down in 1997 to give some dogs a "second chance" without being automatically put down.
"This dog had a second chance* and I don't believe that should have happened at all," he said. "I think it is absolutely tragic that 15 years after the Act was implemented there are still pit bull terriers in our country."
(*this is in dispute, there is no record of the dog attacking any one before although he may have had a go at another dog)
Lord Baker called for the law to be tightened, with other breeds, including bull terriers, Alsatians and Rottweilers, registered and muzzled in public places.
I think a pitbull is a terrible choice for a family pet because at the end of the day they are bred to be fighting dogs, aggression was and is prized in them, as is fearlessness and tenacity. A very dangerous combination. Put this into the hands of a young man- and it is frequently young men who own them- who wants to be seen as a bit of a tough lad and you can have a real problem on your hands.
Most larger breeds of dogs need to be trained properly. They need obedience, socialisation and to be treated with a a firm kind hand. Any sign of aggression need to be addressed immediately and dealt with accordingly, and that includes food aggression and aggression towards other dogs.
But it is folly to think that it is only the 'dangerous breed' dogs we need to watch for. All dogs can be dangerous, most dogs can over power and seriously harm a child. I have always said toddlers and dogs don't mix and I will say it until the day I give up the ghost and go to the shoe shop in the sky.
For what it's worth I agree with registering dogs, I think it is a sound idea. I think people should be held resonsible for their dogs and their actions.
I think all dogs should be microchipped, spayed and neutered too, unless they are a show dog, or owned by reputable breeders. Maybe then our pounds and shelter would not be filled with unwanted animals.
But what I don't agree with it the hysterical bullshit that comes after every single dog related tragedy.