I’ve long been a fan of dogs, and I’ve long been a non-fan of stupid laws. Which means that I have fairly strong feelings towards the Dangerous Dogs Act, which is both a bad/stupid law in an of itself, and bad because of the way it treats dogs and their owners.
But worse that said stupid law is the way that people try and tell you that it’s bad because it’s not stupid enough. Like my local free newspaper, the Lewisham & Catford edition of the News Shopper. Which is currently running a really annoying campaign called SHOP A DOG.
News Shopper is running a series of features on dangerous dogs and we need YOUR help to get the law changed to make our parks and neighbourhoods safer for everyone.
SHOP A DOG is News Shopper’s new campaign to bring justice to the victims of dog attacks and help prevent further maulings across south-east London and north Kent.
According to NHS statistics, at least 163 people have been injured by dogs in the News Shopper area in the last two years, leaving some victims with horrific wounds while many irresponsible dog owners have got off scott free.
SHOCK, SHOCK, HORROR, HORROR, SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!
Don’t get me wrong; being attacked by a dog cannot be a good thing. But pressing for new laws is not the answer; the last dangerous dog around here was dealt with entirely legally: it ended up being shot repeatedly with a shotgun. If the law allows the police to shoot dogs that they have contained within a house in a residential street, I suspect that the law is probably tough enough.
But the News Shopper doesn’t end with wanting a harsher law, they want the following:
- Increase the sentence for owning a banned dog – in line with carrying a knife.
- Extend the law to include dog attacks on private land – therefore protecting workers such as postmen and carers.
- Increase the prison sentences for owners convicted of allowing their dog to attack humans.
- Force all Staffordshire Bull Terriers to wear a muzzle in public.
- Simplify the court process so that banned dogs can be destroyed immediately.
Shall I deal with those one by one?
- Part the first, the rules for carrying knives are ridiculous, so calling for other laws to match them marks you out as a bit of a fool. Part the second, the definition of a banned dog is so lax as to require a dog suspected of being banned to be investigated by experts, which can’t be done on the spot. So, twice foolish. Plus, dog racism. Me no likee.
- You can fuck off with extending the [bad] law to cover my dog on my premises. As a responsible dog owner, I take responsibility for my dog, but extending the law would require me to keep my dog muzzled in my own damn house.
- Increasing the prison sentence for allowing a dog to attack a human? Again, fuck off – if it’s serious and intentional, then the laws are plenty harsh and go all the way up to murder.
- I don’t like people who get down on Staffies. Considering how popular they are (they make up probably a third of the dogs I see on my morning walk), five attacks by them over three years in an area with a population of over a million is not justification for a new law. Especially when the damn News Shopper article says that 163 people have been injured by dogs in the last two years in the same area; that’s not exactly a massive percentage caused by SBTs, is it?
- Simplify the court process to allow all banned dogs to be destroyed immediately. Awesome. You have some instant test to prove that a dog is of a banned breed? You have a way of bringing the dog back to life if a mistake is made? Or are you going to compensate the owner in a sensible way? If the News Shopper is confused, might I refer them to the (still in force) Clause 29 of the Magna Carta.
In short, I think that each and every aim of their campaign is either stupid, abhorrent, or both. So I condemn their paper to being used for bedding for my beloved pooch. Which is not, by law, a Staffie, so she’ll be fine.
Fuck you, News Shopper.