A four year old boy, John Paul Massey,was attacked and killed by a dog in his grandmother's home in the UK. And the reaction of the media and local authorities has highlighted why the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991 in the UK has failed -- and failed miserably.
Most of the focus of the media articles, and of the authorites, have involved what breed of dog was involved in the attack. According to one news source:
Police said genetic tests would be carried out to establish the breed of the dog involved.
Added the police spokesman: "The process of identification of whether a dog is illegal under the dangerous dog act takes time.
"It is a complex issue and further forensic examinations are ongoing to establish the type of dog involved in this attack."
The dog, for what it's worth, has been described in the media as a "mastiff", a "bull-terrier" a "bull terrier-type", a "bull dog", a mastiff/Bull terrier cross and even one report of it being a 'pit bull".
And while the authorities have been talking about the breed of dog involved, and the media has been creating sensational images around the attack, not once, in nearly 200 articles about this, has anyone seemed at all interested in the circumstances surrounding an attack that led to a four year old boy to be killed.
And that's where this whole thing has gone wrong.
Anyone with any sense at all realizes at this point that breeds are not responsible for aggressive attacks -- that it takes a series of unfortunate circumstances and a neglegent owner for them to happen. By focusing on breeds of dogs, the authorities in the UK are not only wasting their animal control resources trying to gather up 'pit bulls', but are missing a key element to ending major attacks -- which is educating owners on the causes that lead up them.
The reason this dog attacked is the same -- regardless of what breed of dog it ends up being. But unfortunately, in the UK, they've chosen to focus on breeds, and throwing the educational piece out the window -- and the citizens in the UK are worse off for it.
In spite of the breed ban that dates back to 1991 - -and quite likely BECAUSE of the breed ban -- major attacks are becomming almost commonplace in the UK.
In Bradford, the areas saw 42 people treated in the hospital from dog bites in 2001/02 and 41 in '02/'03. That number has been near or above 90 in each of the past 3 years.
In Lancashire, the number of people hospitalized from dog attacks had doubled in just the past 5 years -- from 36 in 2003 to 75 in 2008.
In West Yorkshire, the number of people treated in hospitals for dog bites had gone up 43% in the past 5 yars.
In Midland, hospitalizations are up 60%.
In Scotland, the number has risen 160% in the past 8 years.
Across the nation, the law has been a failure -- and they continue to just throw more money at the issue vs actually dealing with the problem. And the problem is that everyone in the country seems too focused on "breeds" to realize that it isn't breeds causing the problems, it's a lack of owner education and a lack of focus on irrepsonsible owners that is causing the problem -- and both problems are actually INCREASED because of their breed ban, not improved. Because of all of this, there is becoming an increased push across the UK to overhaul the Dangerous Dogs Act. And not a moment too soon.
Folks, BSL is failing -- everywhere.