Reading time: 4min.

by Ceri Clark

Dangerous dogs or uninformed owners?

I understand that big dogs or angry dogs can be intimidating. But does that give us the right to dictate what breeds are dangerous and what breeds are friendly? In the right circumstances even the smallest dog can harm someone and yet only a few have been banned in the UK.

My current family pet is an American Bulldog. He is a fairly big dog and was rescued by the dogs trust as a stray in South Wales. This means we don’t really know his past, how he was treated, how he came to be a stray and it can make his behaviours a little more unpredictable. But this does not make him the ‘scary dangerous dog’ that many may portray him to be, especially in light of recent events. What it does mean is, that as owners, we have to make sure we can understand his triggers and read his behaviour, we have to be responsible and take the time to train and socialise him. As should any owner of any dog no matter their history or circumstance.

A lack of training and proper care is what makes a dog dangerous. No animal, no matter how big or small, is born inherently dangerous, people included. Examples of this can be seen in the domestication of animals typically seen as wild such as the domesticated bear that was taken in by Svetlana and Yuriy Pateleenko. They adopted Stephan when he was three months and now at 23 the bear sits with them quite happily and will watch TV in the evenings. Another example would be of Ary Borges in Maringa who currently has a family of 9 tigers who were bread from two brothers he rescued from a travelling circus, they now currently live and swim with the family in and around the house. These examples, at least to me, show that animals are merely a product of their upbringing and will react according to their surroundings. When these ‘wild’ animals can be bought into a home, and treated with respect and care, they will do the same for us. The same goes for dogs.

I pose a question to you, if you see a stranger coming into your home, uninvited by you what is your reaction? Presumably you’d call the police or at least call for help? But that doesn’t stop them. So you found yourself in a fight or flight situation, you want to defend your home, your loved ones, and your possessions, so you fight. This is what any dog would feel in the same situation and yet, if the dog injures the person, we’d have the dog put down, labels it as dangerous.

But they’re just animals; they can’t be controlled they’re savage. The only difference between a dog and a person is that it is easy to understand a person; it takes more work to understand a dog. The signs are all there, whether they’re happy, scared, confused or curious. We just need to learn how to see them and teach our children when they can and can’t approach them.

But what about dogs that are fighting breeds? There is no such thing as a ‘fighting breed’ bull breed dogs were originally bread to herd bulls, much like sheep dogs for sheep. The reason they’re bigger and have stronger jaws is because they’re dealing with far bigger animals. Of course they are used more now for dog fighting and for their ‘aggressive’ style, but this is the behaviour of training, these dogs are kept and raised with fighting, aggressive traits. Something that, overtime with work, love and care can be retaught and undone. The thing is, it takes time and these animals aren’t ready for immediate rehoming and so aren’t seen as worth the fuss.

When looking at the Dangerous Dogs Act it is clear it was created as a knee jerk reaction to a perceived problem and is entirely unsuitable for the issues faced. As a dog owner I feel laws should be looking more at the treatment from the owner than the breed of the dog, perhaps even licensing laws and checks, in the same way you’re licensed to have a gun. Something that would ensure owners could be checked up on for the safety of people and animals.

We don’t put down dangerous people, so why should it be the same for dogs?