The Latest “Solution” To The Problem Of Dog Attacks – by Jan Fennell

In just two months’ time the dog breed known as the ‘American XL Bully’ will be banned from the UK. Meaning that no more can be bred and the existing dogs will have to be neutered and wear a muzzle whenever they are in public. It seems that the authorities believe this will eliminate any of the recent issues there have been with this breed.

The first problem here is identifying an individual dog as being an XL Bully. It is not always that simple. I can remember that when the Pitbull breed was banned, many years ago, some breeders crossed a yellow Labrador with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, resulting in a dog that looked exactly like a Pitbull but wasn’t liable for the ban. Can we be sure something similar will not happen this time around?

Along with identification we must look at who is going to police the breeding and ownership of a banned breed. Again, all we need to do is to look to the banned Pitbull, as there are believed to be thousands of these living in the UK, thirty years after being banned. I can only assume these dogs are the longest living canines on the planet.

For those of us who remember having to buy a license to have a dog in the UK, we knew all too well that while we dutifully went to the post office and bought one license for each dog that we owned, there were more people with dogs that never bothered to buy one. It was easy to get away without paying because it is a very difficult rule to police, and lack of funding means there will never be dedicated police units dealing with the problem.

Another aspect with the current proposal, that I found almost unbelievable, is that there are plans to financially compensate any owner of an American XL Bully who elects to have their dog killed; they will be reimbursed by the authorities. I imagine that the rational is to remove the problem quickly, hoping to reduce the instances of attack. However, I believe that was has not been taken into account is that they will be enabling irresponsible owners to dispose of their inconvenient banned breed in this manner. Perhaps they will even be funding those same owners to go out and seek a replacement from the many legal breeds that strongly resemble the dog that they have just discarded.

Some owners will then be free to mistreat and misuse the look alike dog in the same way as they had with the slaughtered XL Bully, making the new dog as potentially lethal as the dog that they disposed of.

As always, all breeds have breeders and owners that love their breed and care for them in an appropriate way, just as there are unscrupulous breeders and owners associated with all types of dogs, especially when fashion dictates. I really feel for the owners who genuinely love this breed because they, as well as their dogs, are also victims here; they are being made to pay for the careless attitudes of others.

The truth is that dogs have been attacking their owners, strangers, other dogs, other animals etc for as long as people have kept dogs as companions, but what makes the latest spate of attacks so alarming is that people now have mobile phones, and rather than calling for assistance, they choose to film the whole thing and then share on social media, within seconds of the event happening. This fosters public hysteria, so we once again see a “knee jerk” solution, which tries to placate the public, but will have a negative knock-on effect for many innocent dog owners.

The reason this latest legislation will not work is, as I am always trying to make people aware of, that when it comes to anything associated with undesirable/unacceptable dog behaviour, the focus is always on the symptom and not the cause. It is only when we look to the actual cause, something I did when creating ‘Amichien bonding’, that we can recognise why any behaviour happens, and how we can resolve the problem, by changing that behaviour.

Pointing the finger at a particular breed is not the answer because no single breed is responsible for attacks on people. Therefore, legislation like this will just calm the general public in the short term, without addressing the real issue; there are some people who just should not have dogs.

This latest “sticking plaster” is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money, while continuing the well-established tradition of always blaming and killing what could, with the right owner/carer, be perfectly beautiful, well behaved dogs.

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