The question I am always asked when such a tragedy happens is: why would a dog attack a human? My answer is that we are all guilty of sentimentalising our dogs.'We' are? A bit of a sweeping statement there? I mean, 'we all' would include working dog owners like farmers and the police, would it not?
And when my family owned dogs, we were always aware they were dogs - animals - and not small four-legged humans. In those days, we weren't unusual in that regard, either.
But our Guy is prone, it seems, to a bit of embellishment:
I encountered one pitbull that spun around on me in an instant, its eyes flashing red and froth spilling from its mouth as it tried to overpower me.
A police dog handler's lot is not a happy one
And I can’t help but groan when I see a sign hanging on a gate — such as the one outside the house where Jade died — saying: ‘Beware of the dog . . . enter at your own risk.’Which he then contradicts immediately:
The police can’t spot every unstable animal unaided.Oh, come on, Guy! Some people, it appears, put up warning signs for you! What more do you need?
Guy is, it seems, almost as great an armchair quarterback as the average blogger is said to be. He's certain this tragedy wouldn't have happened if only...
If someone had flagged up those dogs in Atherton to the police earlier, perhaps the town wouldn't be grieving for a teenage girl today.
If neighbours see a dog barking madly at a window in a house or running up and down on the other side of a garden fence snapping at those who pass by, they shouldn't just shudder silently and hurry on.Bzzzzt! Wrong! On two accounts.
Firstly, having a dog that barks or runs up and down isn't a crime. Nor - unbelievably - is it a crime to have five dogs in the shit-strewn concrete 'garden' of a council semi. If they are well-fed (preferably on Pedigree Chum & not teenagers) and not lacking veterinary treatment, even the RSPCA won't want to know.
What the hell are the police supposed to do about it?
And secondly, and perhaps most importantly; many a tale I've recounted here has owners bitten while wrestling their (often dead) pets from the jaws of these type of dogs only for the police to shrug and proclaim it none of their affair.
Most owners don’t realise that if their dog bites someone, it’s an offence of ‘strict liability’ — that is, the owner is responsible and could go to prison.Ah. The weasel word there, 'could'.
Yes, they could. But for that to happen the police would have to take action (and they often don't, that lack of foresight sometimes coming back to literally bite them or their hapless colleagues in the arse).
And the magistrates would have to do their job, and we all know how unlikely an occurrence that is, don't we?
So maybe, Guy, there's your answer to your pontification about why the neighbours didn't report the dogs. They know that, unlike them, the State has no teeth or simply often refuses to use them...