Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Once Bitten

To be bitten by the same dog once is unfortunate, to be attacked twice might be considered a pattern of animal behaviour.

That's what happened to me this evening cycling on the promenade towards Minnis Bay, while in the Grenham Bay stretch. Some months ago, in exactly the spot, I was chased-down by a large brown greyhound-type creature that answers to the name of "Roly" which clamped its jaws around my knee. I had to stop and fend it off with my bike until the owner came, I explained to the owner that the dog was a danger and he was lucky I didn't call the police.

This evening, the same thing happened again but this time he held the dog while I passed and then let it loose. In what resembled a training exercise for the dog, involving unwilling members of the public, it ran me down like a rabbit on a greyhound track. Once more I had to protect myself with my bike and once more it bit me.

I told the owner that allowing his dog to bite anyone wasn't a smart idea and if it happens a third time it becomes a police matter. What would happen if my daughter was cycling with me? A middle-aged man with a teenage son, he told me that he was "unimpressed" and anyway, "ee's only playin inn'e." (So if I pick up a lump of driftwood and batter the dog with it, is that only "playin" too?)

With all due respect to everyone's right to walk their dog along the beach, his dog might well be playing but how am I supposed to know and what happens if a child is chased and bitten off his or her bike by the same dog? Is it still a game? I doubt many people would find it funny!

I will be reporting the incident to the council's dog warden tomorrow but if anyone knows of it happening to others; after all, I can't be the only person if I'm bitten twice, then I would like to know so that preventative action can be taken against the owner before someone is hurt.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

surely as someone who was elected to serve the public you should of reported the first incident to the police I dread to think what the press would say if that dog goes on to kill a young child and a cllr ignored the fact of reporting it to the police If i was that parent I would be livid

DrMoores said...

It's a valid point you make but you also need to consider the practical implcations, which is why I'm logging the story here to evidence the problem and secondly why I will report the matter tomorrow.

As the dog only gave a painful "pinch" bite through my tracksuit, there's only my word against that of the owner and his teenage son. The police, if called, would also have to find their way to the spot on the promenade and by the time they did, I assume that both dog and owner would be long gone! Would you agree?

This way, local people have at least a small chance of being made aware of the problem and the dog warden will know where to look. If anyone is injured and I sincerely hope that I am an isolated case of lightening striking twice in the same spot, then the chances of a succesful prosecution against an irresponsible dog owner will improve.

Finally, someone reading this may know who owns "Rolly" and the owner may take a more responsible approach to exercising his dog as a result.

I hope that sounds sensible to you?

Anonymous said...

I am amazed at the attitude of the dog owner; he deserves to be prosecuted as a bite is a bite!

worm said...

Never mind about a child being bitten, what about you??! You WERE bitten. You should have reported it to the police the first time and should certainly do so now. People like this only get away with it because peopl do nothing. Report it!!

Anonymous said...

7 pm. How would you prove it was the same dog, paw prints, forensics or perhaps the dog confessing in the cells?
The local plods won't come to your aid if you're being beaten up in your own home. Do you really think they'll give a stuff about a dog with an owner at the bottom of the food chain!!

Anonymous said...

Worm have you actually READ what DrM put up at 7 18?

Anonymous said...

You were lucky Cllr. On some parts of the beach you're at more risk of being bitten by the owners!

DrMoores said...

Next week I'll be focusing on the sharks at Westbay!

Anonymous said...

I have had similar experiences in this area with dogs chasing cyclists. I ride a recumbent bike from Whitstable to Birchington and for a long time now have armed myself with a thing called a Dog Dazer. My style of bike has attracted too much dog attention in the past so I now arm myself with a thing called a Dog Dazer.
When you press the button and point in the right direction, this emits an ultrasonic tone which only dogs, not humans, can hear and they should back off as the tone his their ears. They cost about £40 - look at dogdazer.co.uk website. Mine appears to be effective - but not on deaf dogs!

Range is about 20 feet - in other words that's just enough to keep the buggers at bay long enough to make good your escape.

If this measure fails, I slow down and try to get the dog ahead of me and chase it. The main gear wheel is right on the front of the bike and the gogs teeth would make an effective cutting tool and just at the right height tohit a mdeium to large dog. Small ones can be caught under the front wheel.

I did think of developing some kind of water cannon to fit along the frame -shooting water sideways in three or four jets using a car windscreen washer pump, but the battery was too bulky for the back of a bike!

Dogs either run away or think about attack when they see this bike. I had one doberman running in front of me for about 1.5 miles along the sea wall from Reculver to Birchington a year or so ago. I hadn't tried to upset the dog in any way. He was with his owners and simply turned and ran away - at a constant speed of around 14mph! I was worried that if I stopped he would turn round and bite me.

We both had good exercise that afternoon!

Nick from Whitstable

Anonymous said...

Has there been any news on the case said to have been brought against Kent Police in Thanet ? As I understand it a police dog was released to chase a man who was driving a tractor.

Allegedly the police dog decided it was easier to attack a pedestrian walking two dachshunds and bit the man an alleged 14 times as well as savaging the captive dachshunds.

I have no reason to suspect that Roly might be the other dog of the police dog handler but a similar MO, unable to control an aggressive dog, does seem common to all three events.

I have heard that in the late 1940s there was an aggressive alsatian at Birchington who liked to take a bite at council labourers. One day he allagedly attacked a labourer who was an ex airborne veteran of Arnhem. One dead alsatian.

Paving slab, strong ex para and gravity ... not a good combination for the would be biter to target ?

Get an air pistol and use your unrepealable rights to bear arms in your own defence. An eight shot repeater ... at least one will take the dog in an eye.

Anonymous said...

Here, for defence against dogs and people who know that Thanet Police would not even be interested if you are being beaten up in your own home, is an interesting piece from "Constabulary":


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Failing to intervene could be an offence
Christopher Locke looks at a person's right to defend themselves and interviews John Hurst, a police officer who says that the Home Office advice could be unlawful. It may be lawful to possess a gun, knife or even a bomb should the person be genuinely in fear of harm to themselves or damage to their property

The response to our frontpage item in the February
issue revealed that almost every reader totally agreed
that both the police and public need clarification as to
what should be done when a victim or witness to a crime intervenes.

There have been far too many victims of crime who end up being charged and taken to court for slightly injuring a burglar they caught in the act, or when a victim fights back when attacked.

What should someone do if they see an old lady being
harassed in the street or, worse still, being attacked? Home Office advice is not to intervene but to call the police and, while waiting for them to arrive, wave your hands in air, shout or sound your car horn.

Police Constable John Hurst has undertaken a study on this subject and strongly disagrees with the Home Office advice of not to intervene, which he considers
might even be unlawful.

He quotes from Halsbury's Laws of England, which details the common-law obligation for all individuals to preserve the peace. Under Section 27 it details the duties of the individuals to the state as being: “The
individual is under certain common-law duties to serve the public. In practice, he or she will now be called upon only in exceptional circumstances.

“Thus, although the maintenance of order is the function of professional police forces, every citizen is under a duty to assist in the quelling of disturbances and the maintenance of the Queen's peace; and if a person refuses to accede to the request of a magistrate, a sheriff or a constable to assist in preserving the peace, he commits an offence at common law.”

Wade and Bradley Constitutional and Administrative Law (11th Edn, 1993) page 549 states: “The duty of the police to maintain the peace is initially based on the duty of the constable as an ordinary individual, but
their powers and duties have been greatly extended by statute.”

John Hurst points out that this is the basis of the police officer's obligation to maintain the peace as well and is one of Sir Robert Peel's Principles of Policing. People who make a citizen's arrest should not be arrested unless there is clear evidence that they have acted unlawfully.

Secondly, and perhaps more controversially, John argues that British subjects do have the right to bear arms.

He quotes Halsburys Laws of England which states (Section 173): “Wearing weapons commonly worn. Apart from statute, it is not an offence for persons
to wear common weapons upon occasions on which it is the common practice to wear them, where there can be no suspicion of an intention to commit any act of violence or disturbance of the peace.”

Now we take a look at Article 7 of the Bill of Rights (1688), which is a constitutional statute that restates the common law and is immune to implied repeal (as was confirmed in the Metric Martyrs Judgment in 2003).

This contains the Oath of Allegiance and the following obligation for Crown officials: “Now in pursuance of the premises the said lords spirituall and temporall and commons in Parlyament assembled for the ratifying, confirming and establishing the said declaration and the articles clauses matters and things therein contained by the force of a law made in due forme by authority of Parlyament doe pray that it may be declared and enacted that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and claimed in the said declaration are the true auntient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdome and soe shall be esteemed allowed, adjudged deemed and taken to be and that all and every the particulars aforesaid shall be firmly and strictly holden and observed as they are expressed in the said declaration. And all officers and ministers whatsoever shall serve their Majestyes and their successors according to the same in all times to come...”

So it seems that a Crown official who fails to acknowledge the subject's rights therefore puts him or herself in breach of their Oath of Office, which is perjury, and also an overt act of treason.

Anyone who has knowledge of such an act and fails to reveal it to the authorities commits an offence of misprision of treason.

Now you may think that this is all based on old law but John Hurst reminds us that The Bill of Rights has recently been included on the Police National Legal
Database, so ignorance is no excuse.

Furthermore, regarding the words “except for statute” in the reference above, neither the Prevention of Crime Act 1953 nor the Firearms Act 1968, as Amended, have altered the subject's rights.

This is confirmed from the debates on the 1953 Act: “If a woman has reasonable cause for thinking that she was going to be in danger of her life she can carry a weapon. There is no absolute prohibition.” Lord Lloyd, Hansard 14 April 1953.

Section 27 of the 1968 Firearms Act states: “A firearm
certificate shall be granted where the chief officer of police is satisfied:

(a) That the applicant is fit to be entrusted with a firearm to which Section 1 applies and is not a person prohibited by this Act from possessing such a firearm.

(b) That he has a good reason for having in his possession or for purchasing or acquiring the firearm or ammunition in respect of which the application is made.

(c) That in all the circumstances the applicant can be permitted to have the firearm or ammunition in his possession without danger to the public safety or to the peace.

What's interesting here is that it states that a firearms
certificate shall be granted and no “good reason” is required for the grant of a shotgun certificate to a suitable person.

As a more up-to-date example, which supports this, John refers to a case in 1984 that went to appeal. This was at a time of serious rioting and a shopkeeper had his shop broken into and looted by rioters.

As the police were unable to prevent his shop from being looted on this occasion, he had no confidence in them should it happen again so he made his own plans to protect himself and his shop.

The shopkeeper stocked up on fire extinguishers, made simple petrol bombs and also put weak battery acid into spray containers that he could spray at rioters to frighten them off.

The shopkeeper was subsequently charged under Section 4 of the Explosive Substances Act 1883 for possession of petrol bombs, which were deemed to
be explosive substances.

Section 4 states that “any person who makes or knowingly has in his possession or under his control any explosive substance, under such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he is not making it or does not have it in his possession or under his control for a lawful object, shall, unless he can show that he made it or had it in his possession or under his control for a lawful object, be guilty of a felony.”

At the trial the judge and the jury accepted the shopkeeper's defence that he only took these steps to defend himself and he was acquitted.

However, the Attorney General took this finding to the Court of Appeal, challenging the judge's decision to allow the interpretation of “possessing it for a lawful
object” to include self-defence.

The appeal was lost and the decision stood, which means that the term “lawful object” could include self-defence as a defence for possession of explosives – albeit under limited circumstances.

The appeal judges did qualify their decision by stating: “The lawfulness of such a purpose cannot be founded on a mere fancy, or on some aggressive motive.

The threatened danger must be reasonably and genuinely anticipated, must appear reasonably imminent, and must be of a nature that could not reasonably be met by other means.”

They went on to clarify that a lawful object must fall within a strictly limited category and cannot be such as to justify going beyond what the law may allow in meeting the situation of danger that the possessor of the explosive substance reasonably and genuinely feels.

The judges said: “There is no question of a person in danger of attack ‘writing his own immunity' for violent future acts. He is not confined for his remedy to calling in the police or boarding up his premises. He may still arm himself for his own protection, if the exigency arises, although in so doing he may commit other offences.”

They also pointed out that whilst it may be deemed that making a petrol bomb with a “lawful object” was lawful, if he keeps it long after the danger has passed it may then be deemed to be unlawful.

So what does all this mean – can it be lawful to possess a gun, knife, stick or even a bomb if you are genuinely in fear of harm to yourself or damage to your
property?

Do members of the public have a duty to intervene and save the old lady being attacked? Could they be prosecuted if they fail to do so? Is the Home Office
advice sensible or could it be unlawful?

If you have a view on this subject or expert legal knowledge please email chrislocke@constabularymagazine.co.uk

Anonymous said...

anon again! ^^^^ blimey!^^^^

Anonymous said...

Most importantly, is the dog OK?

worm said...

Anon 7.42

Yes I read it and I still think the Doc should have reported it.

DrMoores said...

I reported it to the the council officer in charge of such matters.. i.e. dogs etc. He advised that dog bites man constitutes an assualt and that becomes a police matter. The difficulty lies in getting the police to attend in time and proving said assault if one's limb are still intact. The dog owner could claim that I asusalted him and the dog "intervened" to protect its owner.. see what I mean!