Yesterday, tragedy struck twice in similar fashion in North America.
In McKeesport, PA, a two day old baby, Howard Nicholson, was tragically killed by the family dog. the infant was apparently left in a baby carrier on the floor. The dog, described as a Husky,had only been with the family for about a month and was left alone with the infant while the mother went to use the bathroom. The mother heard the baby cry and came in to find the child tragically bitten by the dog. The child later died at the hospital.
27% of the population of Mckeesport lives below the poverty line -- which is more than double the national average. The story was picked up by about 30 media outlets.
Meanwhile, in Airdrie, AB, another newborn infant was bitten by the family dog. The dog in this situation was also labeled as a "Husky". Few other details are noted.
Both incidents are tragic, and my heart goes out to the families in both cases and in neither case was any type of "attack", but merely bites to very tiny, and fragile, victims.
I think it's interesting to read about these two incidents and the media portrayal of them.
There has been no hysteria about Huskies being dangerous dogs (they're not) and there has been no talk, or media polls, or any of that nonsense calling for bans on them. For the most part, the media has rationally played these out at tragic, rare, accidents. Which they are.
For the most part, the news articles are (accurately) labeling the dogs as "family dogs" and most media outlets have been talking about the dangers of leaving newborn children alone with dogs and the importance of long, slow socialization between babies and dogs.
These are good things. And while I'm excited to see the emphasis on this type of education, why is it that the media, and some hate groups, lose their freaking mind when other types of dogs are involved?
There are a lot of great eduational resources out there in helping new parents introduce babies into a household with dogs. One of my favorites is Dogs and Storks (which is going through a rebranding to Family Paws Parent Education). They have a fantastic, 20 minute free, online webinar about introducing babies and dogs. I highly encourage this type of program for any new parent - with a focus on fact-based education and handling dogs and children and focusing on proper supervision and separation when that isn't possible.
Education beats hysterics every time. And hopefully we can move closer to education in all incidents, regardless of the type of dog involved in the bites.