This week DEFRA close their consultation on ‘irresponsible dog ownership’ (scroll down for the points in full). So, with it being nearly two months since she was last attacked, we thought we’d ask: how’s Pepper?
Fortunately this time she recovered without complication, thanks to plenty of TLC, some effective medication, natural canine resilience – and hundreds of messages of support. In fact, we were overwhelmed by the response. Celebs including Sue Perkins and Rick Edwards retweeted the article, bringing it to the attention of thousands of new readers, and the broader media picked up on the story too: The Londonist reposted it, Time Out did a report, and the Ham & High even put a picture Pepper on their cover, devoting a page inside.
But even better were some (mostly) intelligent comments left in response to the article. Many suggested compulsory dog-training classes or muzzling and owner fines for dogs that have attacked; some even wondered about compulsory insurance premiums for ‘status’ dogs (interesting but not very practical, methinks). But what unified almost everyone was that it’s a problem of ‘dangerous owners’ not dogs. Reader Andrea Morton summed it up clearly:
‘Dog attacks on anyone, human or dog have nothing whatsoever to do with the breed – it is purely about the owner. Any dog has the ability to bite. We need to have stricter laws pertaining to unsuitable and uncaring owners. Learn about your breed and your individual dog. Train constantly, Socialise, Neuter, Microchip, Insure and know your dog’s quirks. Be a responsible owner because the ones who pay for your mistakes are the dogs.’
Nicely put. And as for bureaucracy? Nil. Nada. Zilch. Islington Police, despite an initial enthusiasm in noting down the attack, never returned our subsequent calls. And neither did the Highbury Fields park warden, although he reassured us confidently on the day of the attack that they would trace the owner. In fact, we were led to be believe that the man was ‘known’.
Least impressive of all, despite forwarding the original article with all 50 comments to DEFRA, this supposedly interested party have not yet acknowledged our email. Which is even more unbelievable when they launched their consultation into amending the 1992 Dangerous Dogs Act on April 23, just a few days after the article on Pepper was published.
So what’s the moral to this tale? Well, there is huge public appetite for more discussion, at least, on the topics of ignorant owners/dangerous dogs, and the need for leads and muzzles. We’ve since heard from so many dog owners who only walk in parks where leads are compulsory, for fear of another attack.
And as for our daily existence, we admit we move more cautiously in public spaces. We cross the road when we see dogs off lead on the pavement. Our hearts leap, if we’re honest, at a bigger dog coming bounding over. But then yesterday, to our horror, Pepper was pinned down by another terrier (she came off with just a graze) so there’s no telling. Vigilance is all.
So yes, of course, we carry on as normal. And that’s what Pepper’s doing right here, playing with her friend Reggie.
As for DEFRA, the consultation closes on June 15 so expect more developments after that. Is there much detail on dog-on-dog attacks? We’re not sure.
Anyway, we’ve sent them the article again this morning – so if we hear any news, we’ll let you know.
Words & Pics: Stephen Emms
1. Extending the criminal offence of allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control to private property (where the dog has a right to be);
2. Compulsory microchipping of dogs;
3. Removing the need to seize and kennel all dogs where court proceeding are pending; and
4. Increase the fee for placing a dog on the Index of Exempted Dogs
‘The proposals provide a mix of preventative, educational and punitive measures which are designed to tackle a variety of problems (e.g. allowing dogs to become dangerous, status dogs, allowing dogs to stray and general irresponsible ownership leading to poor welfare and anti-social behaviour)’.
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