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Getting The Facts On Dog Attacks
I’m reading the articles and listening to the radio about the pregnant Point Fortin mother who was attacked by dogs and thinking to myself we really need to do something about developing thinking and analytical skills in schools.We need to teach students to be better thinkers so they can grow up and ask the right questions and attack the burning issues on hand in this country when these types of horrific reports make the news. We need adults who can think about the real issues at hand and the plausible solutions for them.
As I said last week, we need to solve problems—not slap plasters on important issues such as the vicious attack on this woman. We need citizens who can recognise this and demand action. Why is it, I ask, do I never see stories about anyone being held accountable for dogs that attack people? Please don’t tell me that the police are waiting for the Dangerous Dogs Act to take action. I don’t have a law degree, but I certainly know that there must be some law to cover a dog attack.
I am a dog owner who has spent tens of thousands of dollars to build walls to secure my dogs and I am appalled that this could happen to someone. Up to Thursday when I was writing this column I had heard or read nothing more than police had interviewed the victim and investigations were going on. Really? It takes this long to hold someone responsible for this horrific act?
I am afraid, once again, that the real issue will be skirted and that instead of fixing the problem of dog attacks, everyone will go off on a useless tirade about pit bulls, the dogs that were blamed for the attack. This is utterly useless because it does nothing but make us passive observers who count the latest victim of dog attacks. As far as I’m concerned, victims of dog attacks receive no real justice.
Here are issues I have with reports from last week.
1. News reports splashed huge headlines about dogs attacking the woman instead of pressing for answers about who was held accountable for the attacks. Once again, the dog became the focus and not the person who owns, socialises, trains—or doesn’t train—the dog.
2. News reports continue to target pit bulls when most people don’t even know what a pit bull is. Half the pothounds in Trinidad are part pit bull. Pit bulls are not a breed and cannot solely be identified by how they look.
3. By writing reports that pit bulls—or any specific breed of dog—are responsible for an act of violence, news reports create a prejudice towards a breed of dog which diverts attention from the real issue: irresponsible and abusive owners.
It gives people the false impression that by vilifying a certain breed we can get rid of the real issue, which is dangerous dogs—not a specific breed. Any dog can be dangerous. I have many questions that I think should appear in follow-up stories about dog attacks:
1. Were the dogs in any of these reported stories secured in any way? How and why are they on the road?
2. Why are people not held for some crime when their dog attacks someone? If your car hits someone, that is a crime. If you assault someone, that is a crime. There must be some crime here that people can be charged with.
3. What happens when people report dangerous dogs that they fear in their neighbourhoods? I am sure people often make reports to the police. What happens to complaints about dogs running wild or not properly secured? Do the police do anything about these reports or, once again, are they sitting in a police station twiddling their thumbs and waiting for an inane, unenforceable act to be passed?
Police in general don’t tend to be proactive. They sit and wait for events to happen and then react to them. That’s my experience.
4. Why in the world, I want to know, did politicians react to this poor woman’s plight by making embarrassing statements about how this proves that the Dangerous Dogs Act must be pushed ahead as soon as possible? Why weren’t they demanding action now? Why did they want to politicise a horrific act like this?
5. Why isn’t anyone looking at animal neglect and abuse as a huge social problem in this country? Why do we want to wait until someone is hurt or killed to splash headlines across the newspapers while we never really tackle the issue?
6. Why don’t politicians want to listen to experts about a workable Dangerous Dogs Act, and why did they not implement suggestions made? Why don’t they learn from history—namely looking at how similar acts to the proposed one failed in other countries?
Make no mistake about it, Kurleen Cooper suffered needlessly because we don’t have our act together as a society when it comes to holding people responsible for their actions. We don’t have proper, fair legislation on the horizon to deal with this problem.
We have allowed too many pressing issues to become lost in political rhetoric, and the Dangerous Dogs Act is just symbolic of that lack of concern and lack of effort. When it comes to dog attacks, no one is more upset than a responsible dog owner.
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