The ‘Child Safety Around Dogs’ dog bite industry (and sadly it has become an income generating industry for some) is a scam. Everyone capable of critical thinking knows or by now should know it’s a scam but the vast majority of “professionals” turn a blind eye.
From what I can tell, because it’s a sexy thing to be a “spokesperson” of the ‘dog bite’ industry and for some because it generates an income stream and others because it gives themselves an unwarranted sense of authenticity (in the eyes of those that don’t know any better) it motors along just as did the emperor without his clothes.
Programs formal and informal exist. It is doubtful that any child in North America escapes some form of advisement. Everything from parental chats, introduction via school curriculums, specially designed games, colouring books, videos and it goes on ad nauseam and has for at least 40 years.
These programs have been designed by “experts” and amateurs alike and have been sponsored by insurance companies, rescues, SPCA’s, animal controls, police departments, fire departments etc. and guess what? Over the 40 years, the data indicates there has been little or no significant impact on the numbers of children bitten by dogs which in both Canada and the United States is defined as epidemic in nature.
Why? Because only a fool doesn’t understand (and apparently there are many of these fools – enough to sustain an industry) you can’t stop a child from being a child and at the same time has made it politically incorrect to preemptively address dog aggression by including as priority options (for dog owners, trainers, breeders, veterinarians and rescues), either re-homing to households where the dog can be trained or euthanized when it cannot. I would say with 40 years of on average, 1 out 2 North American children being bitten by a dog before they reach the age of 12, it should be obvious that “child safety around dogs education” does not usurp the reality of children doing childish things and the “business plan” needs to change.
In my view blaming a child’s behaviour for being bitten by a dog is as reprehensible as blaming a woman for being sexually assaulted. If we’re ever going to end this epidemic – blaming the victim has to stop. Only when the “experts” get this into their thick skulls will we start to focus our attention intelligently and hopefully find long term solutions.
Yes, I’ve seen children do things that shouldn’t be done but I’m not talking about the exceptions to the rule. I was just reading a thread where a child almost lost an eye (in surgery as I write this) to a dog and someone commented once again (ludicrously) defending the dog, Quote – “children running towards the dog?, screaming? This is a definite threat to a dog of any size and of course will react. Children need to be educated on how to behave around dogs.” End of quote. I call B.S. and shame on anyone that thinks as much. The child in question was minding its own business running down a narrow bike path with other children. The dog a known threat to children and handled by someone physically incapable of restraining the dog mauled the child. Criminally negligent in my book.
I have been assured the owner feels horrible (I’m sure they do) and is taking full responsibility. I would suggest since by all reports they were unquestionably fully aware of the risk the dog posed, the “taking full responsibility” door slammed shut some time ago. If they had actually been responsible they wouldn’t be feeling horrible (and in any case no where near as horribly as the child and parents) because the dog would have been possibly re-homed or euthanized when they realized they had too much dog for themselves or worse, an unstable dog. After the fact regret when you have foreknowledge should not be good enough and yet in the thread I’m referring to and so many others I’ve followed over the years – it is – good enough – for an incredible number of dog lovers. Whereas I’m of the opinion when a dog owner becomes aware that a dog can’t abide the normal mercurial and frenetic activities that is being a child., the dog owner needs to question the wisdom of keeping such a dog and act. And, I might add – otherwise suffer the consequences which I suggest in many cases have crossed the line from civil liability over to criminal liability.
The above scenario is not uncommon. Over the last 30 years of working with dogs I have assessed hundreds if not 1,000’s of dogs that have bitten human beings and it is so rare as to be insignificant for significant warning signs to not have been present for anyone with common sense to not know what was coming down the pike if they didn’t take drastic steps.
It’s not just dog owners that need to be held accountable. Too many “trainers” and rescues insist any dog can be rehabilitated/saved and too many in society now believe them. This isn’t even true in theory but when it is, there are variables (like the owner’s lifestyle, handling ability to mention only two) that can reduce the likelihood of a transition that would occur in a timely enough manner and/or to a sufficient degree to keep children/people safe. The line has been drawn in the wrong place and it cultivates irresponsible dog ownership where dog first – people second is acceptable in far too many circles.
Owning a dog is a privilege and not a right. Caring for, loving that dog, is a very serious responsibility and I admire anyone that takes it seriously. However, it does not (or should not) absolve any dog owner of their social responsibilities as they pertain to their own children, other children, friends, neighbours and any other human likely to cross their dog’s path whether on or off their property.