Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Blair Anderson, on the hustings 'canvassing for opinion'

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lest We Forget....

When Dogs AttackImage by Matthew Saunders via Flickr

....600,000 Kiwi Canines never bit anyone today.

see the now world wide story here

Woman charged after savage dog attack

TV3 News - Jane Luscombe - ‎8 hours ago‎
"You go out to a dog bite you don't expect to see what we saw. It was just horrendous. That's one that will probably stay with me forever. ...

This is not about the breed. This is about responsible ownership and training (about which we have few facts). There is nothing in this tragedy so far that indicates the dogs were 'set' onto the victim here. Further, this wasn't atypical territorial/resource guarding, it was pack hunting. Pack hunting is a trained/learned behavior, it is not innate. A good (pig) dog doesn't just launch into hunting mode - it should exhibit controlled restraint until commanded. Otherwise it is not a good hunters pig dog and is ever present danger and a management problem. (even Wolves learn this as pups)

If one or more of these dogs had acute socialisation issues it certainly suggests one or more (possibly all) of these dogs needed to be kenneled AND to be managed effectively off leash. But that still doesnt mean the events that unfolded was inherently criminal.
The owner(in this case) may have been presented with a very difficult situation, with NO knowledge she had 'savage dogs' in her care. They may, on the other hand have been on her property because one or more had 'issues'. But that doesn't make her CRIMINALLY culpable.

I have no doubt that one or more of these dogs WILL have exhibited pack hunting aggression towards moving human 'prey' before. The questions remain, did SHE know this, if so, had she taken steps to manage this, and what can we learn from 'what failed' here.

However, the unique circumstances of that management may not be directly the fault of the 'guardian' in this case and despite the baying for blood by a motley rabble of concerned citizens, the question of culpability is made complex now the eight dogs have been punished (euthanised).

['Destroyed' is a gawd awful term, and very unhelpful in its fueling of prejudices and emotions. Calls for the two restrained dogs that did nothing to also be 'destroyed' beggars belief and says more about people than it does dogs. ]

What we can predict will be clamouring for tougher laws targeting 'those people' and 'those dogs' and much venting of spleens and little practical real world solutions. While this is a case with some very unique characteristics, such exceptional cases tend to inform policy poorly.

Regrettably and more broadly, the more we keep our dogs on short leads and behind high fences the less socialised our dogs are becoming thus producing the very outcomes we set out to solve. This case will not help informed discussion and will lead to preventative euthanisation without due considerations. (cf:Invercargill, Bill Watts)

One can only hope the prognosis for the lass bitten so terribly is as as good as medicine, doctors and ACC can make possible. The scars will be more than skin deep and the burden will fall on those all around her.

We as a collective community should direct our concerns at restoring 'what is broken' and not distort the discourse so we can learn 'collectively' what to look out for where we live and better enable common civility to protect us.

Lest we forget, there is no rule we can make that is that is smarter than us.

Blair Anderson ‹(•¿•)›
Social Ecologist 'at large'
ph (643) 389 4065 cell 027 265 7219

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