In the last few weeks, I have – like the the rest of Christchurch – become aware of a spate of violent dog attacks against a range of people from pensioners to the very young. All of them have required hospital treatment for torn tendons, through to puncture wounds.
A pitbull staffordshire cross was put down after attacking a boy in Woolston on Friday. The pensioner was attacked by an unknown dog, and the City Council are still trying to find the owner. All dogs are capable of delivering a dangerous bite, but I tend to agree that some are more predispositioned to attacking without warning than others. There have been several times when I have been confronted with aggressive dogs, but only once when I thought I was going to be attacked. The others were more acting like I was on their ground and they did not know whether to trust me or not.
I grew up with a black female labrador who my parents got as a pup. She made a lousy guard dog 90% of the time but was a fantastic family pet, and really good with visitors and children. Only twice did I ever see it show aggressive behaviour. In one incident, which comes from the 10% of the time she elected to be a good guard dog, two real estate agents tried viewing the house without coming to the front door and she bailed them up against the fence. The other time, was more unfortunate, as a guy had come around to inspect foundations for a conservatory. For whatever reason she took an exception to him – he was not hurt, and understanding when told this was totally out of character. After that we notified people before they came around that there is a dog on the property, which we would tie up prior to their arrival. In her final years we had to be careful not to surprise her when coming home as she went totally deaf and often did not know someone was there until within touching distance.
According to Christchurch City Council information, the Dog Control Act 1996 stipulates that a person convicted of an offence under the Act (infringement aside), may be classified as a Probationary Owner, meaning any unregistered dogs in their possession must be rehomed or destroyed in 14 days; may be required to take a course on dog control but is allowed to keep registered pets. This is live for two years unless the Council terminates it. Probationary owners should not be confused with Disqualified Owners who are not allowed to own a dog for five years, have to have rehomed or destroyed any dogs in their possession and cannot be found in possession of a dog unless it is lost or being held to prevent damage, injury or distress.
In San Francisco, there are dog parks where dogs are able to run free. Because the city is a significant built up urban area with few properties having backyards for dogs to run around in, training them to behave is essential. My brother who has spent the last five years living in San Francisco says that he has never had a problem with dogs in the dog parks, and the owners have good control over their pets.
For me, the owner taking responsibility is the fundamental first step. If a person is not prepared to be a responsible dog owner, they have no business owning one. Simple as that.
The dog is a mirror image of you. If you look after it well and train it properly, you will have many years of fun and friendship ahead. If you don’t it is on your head.