The Pet Education Trust (PET) hopes that last night’s hard hitting Death Row Dogs documentary on BBC1 has had the desired effect on many people by making them aware of one common denominator when it comes to problems with status or dangerous dogs – bad ownership. The programme will also have stirred a whole wealth of emotions in animal lovers, particularly as they watched a healthy, friendly dog be seized from a previously convicted dog owner, banned from keeping animals – which then had to be destroyed simply because a law (The Dangerous Dog Act 1991) is flawed.
PET believes that the programme clearly highlighted the desperate need for education amongst owners. It would appear that not one of the owners portrayed in the programme knew anything about how to correctly raise or socialise a dog. It was also clear to see that the animals were often found terrified and cowering in filthy, unsuitable living conditions.
Naidre Werner, Director of The Pet Education Trust commented on last night’s programme: “Well done to the BBC for portraying the situation around dangerous dogs in a fair way. There are unsuitable, uneducated, irresponsible dog owners out there who should not be keeping any pet, let alone a strong breed of dog. Yet they are and they keep doing it, so surely now it is time for change? A change in the laws is needed so that the ownership of a ‘status’ dog, that could be used as a ‘weapon’ by some people, is punished severely and the punishments actually implemented.”
“Similarly, a change in the Dangerous Dog Act (DDA) is urgently needed. To put to death an animal that obviously hasn’t been trained to fight and that is a friendly, family pet, which because of its unsuitable owner and living conditions can’t be rehomed because of the DDA law is criminal in itself.”
The BBC documentary has highlighted areas of the law that many organisations (including the Pet Education Trust,) who work within the animal care and behaviour industry have been arguing against for a number of years.
Animal behaviourist Debbie Connolly, who sits on the Advisory Panel for the Pet Education Trust added: “The phrase Deed not Breed is true for a reason. Any dog can attack and cause a nasty bite. Any dog that is badly bred by back yard breeders or puppy farms, not correctly cared for, socialised and trained has the capacity to inflict an injury. Whilst it is the power breeds like staffies, pit bull types and rotties that hit the headlines in tragic circumstances, in my many years of behaviourial training, I’ve seen the same injuries caused by much smaller, ‘family’ pets. In every case, it is bad breeding and irresponsible owners. ”
Debbie continued: “Death Row Dogs highlighted the very difficult job the Police do in implementing a law that punishes good dogs. The sad sight of a lovely tempered Pit Bull being put to sleep wagging its tail will haunt all dog lovers for ever. Seeing dogs in filthy, disgusting conditions does beg the question whether our other laws about animal welfare and the five freedoms are being enforced at all whilst innocent dogs are dying for how they look.’
The Pet Education Trust would like to see far more being done to educate what is already known to be the problem areas within society who seek to own status dogs and simply treat them as another form of weapon. PET would also like to see members of the public educated away from what is a knee-jerk ‘ban all dangerous dogs’ reaction so that they too can see the truth behind the problem…..the owners themselves. As much as last night’s documentary made uncomfortable and even disturbing viewing, it also did much to point the finger of blame exactly where it needs to be pointed.