Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dog Day Afternoon

It's a newspaper headline that makes me think of Thanet and areas of Margate in particular:

"Concern about the proliferation of illegal breeds in deprived areas, where legal species such as the Staffordshire bull terrier are also seen by young gang members as status symbols, has led the Conservative Party to call for a new Dog Control Act to force owners to take responsibility for their pets."

I've two dogs of my own. A very old Yorkshire terrier (pictured) and a young puppy. Last weekend, even on the beach at St Mildred's Bay, I felt intimidated and considered it wise to turn the dogs around, because one young man had two boisterous 'pit bulls' running off the lead and were dominating the entire beach. A second and much older individual exercises his two dogs on the tennis courts and increasingly, I find that I have to keep a good look-out when I'm walking, to avoid being 'bounced' by dogs of all types roaming off the lead away from their owners.

On those occasions when I felt compelled to pass polite comment, "Would you please control your dog sir", the normal response from the owners of the more aggressive breeds is predictably unhelpful, hostile and even threatening. Women owners invariably insist: "He's only playing" as an excitable 'Rover' paws at my trousers trying to reach the trembling puppy I'm protecting in my arms.

Playing or not, the sight of two Staffordshire Bull Terriers (one local owner has three), charging across the beach in your direction and focused on the two small dogs in your care is likely to give cause for alarm.

The explosion in popularity of these so-called "weapon dogs", which are brutalised and trained by their owners to make them more vicious, has led animal welfare groups and politicans to call for urgent measures, including new laws, to tackle a phenomenon that threatens to overwhelm animal refuges.

A walk through the streets of Margate on any day leaves me to wonder whether the Dangerous Dogs Act was something that happened in another country. Out of work young men in 'hoodies' hanging around with the obligatory Staffordshire cross-breed, sitting on the benches outside the library or the wall outside the Jobcentre.

In today's Independent, the paper reports that the situation in some London boroughs is already "out of hand." The Deputy Mayor of London, Kit Malthouse, said consideration should also be given to banning all bull breeds which were inherently more aggressive than other dogs and were "canine weapons that terrorise the streets of Peckham, Toxteth and Moss Side" and Claire Robinson, a spokesman for the RSPCA, said: "The breed-specific issue is a red herring. What we need is a fundamental overhaul of legislation to tackle the problem of irresponsible ownership. "We need to be looking at measures such as tenancy agreements which can be used to ensure council properties are not used for indiscriminate breeding."

I wonder how many other people across Thanet have noticed the almost remarkable expansion of more aggressive breeds in the company of younger owners. What we can do about it other than express worry, I don't know but it's time that Government; any Government took decisive action to reverse the unhappy social consequences of removing the dog license in the first place.


Michael Child said...

Simon I think government any government have missed the point that a civilised society which the uk is supposed to have, has a basic requirement that the majority of law abiding citizens can walk about safely without being intimidated.

Now we have a small proportion of the population making our environment unpleasant and intimidating and we need some political party or another to come up with a viable way to deal with this situation.

It is damaging our towns and public leisure places both from a human environment perspective and economically.

I believe much of the problem with government local and national is that there is a large lobby of major companies that benefit from out of town, privately policed leisure and shopping being perceived as safe, while our actual living environments, our towns, are becoming perceived as dangerous.

Much of the onus here is on local government, here in Ramsgate we have had problem people recently re housed in the town centre to relive problems in housing estates.

This is then followed by some sort of council press release saying how they have reduced crime and antisocial behaviour on these estates.

To deliberately import these problems into our commercial and most populated areas seems to me to be insane, it is economic and environmental suicide.

Anonymous said...

We had an incident yesterday. Our daughter phoned as the neighbour's staffie had got into their back garden and was attacking their labrador after trying to attack their 16 year old cat. A few weeks ago it was the neighbours fighting cock that appeared in the garden and the labrador killed it.

We drove straight to the father of the neighbour (where we know the miscreant goes to sleep during the day so he can be awake all night pushing drugs and having barneys.

After the initial surprise that we knewexactly where to find him he drove home with us following and promptly ran into his house locked the door and dialled 999.

As it happens my son in law had got home quickly from work and separated the dogs before the labrador killed the Staffie which had got the worst of the fight.

I am afraid to say this is the lab's second scalp on the estate as he was also attacked some time ago by a husky cross rottweiler which roamed the estate and killed dogs. It followed us to fields and I saw its tail curled tight over its back and it was all stiff legged as it went after the young labrador. By the time I got to the dogs the lab had got the better of the rottie husky cross which was squealing and running. The lab let it run but went after it to make it run again when it stopped and turned back ... once the cross was low tailing it back to the estate the lab came back to chase ball.

The prob is that the house next to our daughter is owned by a housing association. They say they are not prepared to use family intervention tenancies. But they were obliged to house the family imposed on them by the council. The family have a history of evictions, burgling neighbour homes, drugs, violence against their own kids, noise and ASBO behaviour.

The Police went to him first and ask why would you not come out and take your Staffie indoors (I was stood on his front "Lawn" with the dog collared and leaded. Oooh apparently he feared for his life.)

I told the coppers there are poachers and there are gamekeepers. If you want to be a poacher don't look to the gamekeeper for justice or protection. If you do then you stop poaching. The problem is those who want to be villain and nark at the same time like the throbber next door. The police did not like this.

The police shouted at my daughter that the poor asbo man next door is "Terrified". Good. Society and police ain't controlling it. The nine year old son follows council officials and PCSOs around the estate chanting "I aint scared of you c words"

The odd thing was I took the Staffie off for a walk whilst awaiting the police 999 response ... and it was slack lead and perfect behaved on the pavement when I was walking it. Big beggar but a cracking looking dog. Trophy dog. I dread to think what its future holds now a lab has tanned it and its owner is humiliated by association.

And the police ! They went to his house first and he spoke to them out in his back garden. Now just why would he not want police dallying in the house duh ? Then the police all left his house and trooped into our daughter's and started putting what he had to say to her and my son in law to respond to. Aye aye stop that. Ask for their version as an open question don't put his version to them to respond to familairize yourself with professionalism ... and by the way he was out of his front door seconds after you entered this house and drove his Saab off. Now where do you think he is going in such a hurry and what could he be transporting hurriedly away from yer august presence ?

The police are useless. Social workers in uniform being manipulated.

I am afraid the labrador has the right idea. Don't trouble trouble unless trouble troubles him. Then kick the crap out of it.

Anonymous said...

anon again!

In Germany a Dog Licence for one of these 'danger' dogs costs its owner a whopping €1000 per year, and you have to pass an Owners Proficiency Test to be able to get one in the first place. A 'yorki' licence, by comparison, costs €80 per year, and no special testing is required.

Are they clever or what?

Trouble is, 'Staffy's' have become a chavva 'must have' fashion item rather like the Burberry check scarves and caps. Burberry have now cancelled using their famous plaids for fear of becoming associated with disreputable people.

Surely, a couple of lessons to learn from clever people.

Call me Infidel said...

Funny how it is the usual suspects that own these dogs. The low lifes who made our lives a misery for several years had a rottweiller and some butt ugly thing like a shar pei. These dogs I presume take quite a bit of feeding yet the whole family were on benefits. Frankly the £1000 license for such dogs is a good idea, but I would imagine that the social would still pick up the tab just as they do for their Sky tv and all the other "essentials."

Anonymous said...

Blokes who have big dangerous dogs are compensating like mad for something they're lacking.
A tape measure and a chat with their partners will probably explain everything!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well said simon.I am terrifed of walking our beautiful beaches with my little spaniel because of these dangerous dogs,so what used to be a real pleasure has turned into an ordeal as i am constantly watching to see who and what is around.Why can't anything be done to make sure these dogs are on a lead and muzzled?

Anonymous said...

anon again!