I deliberated with myself a lot over whether to write this post. I don't intend it to be a bashing of the parents or families of children who have been seriously injured or killed by dogs because lets face it, they've probably been punished enough. It's just a matter which has been weighing on my mind for the last couple of days and I wanted to defend these so called 'dangerous' dogs. I hope it doesn't turn into a massive incoherent rant but it's a matter which is very close to my heart.
Yesterday in Pontyberem, Wales, a six day old baby was reportedly killed by her family's pet, an Alaskan Malamute. You can read the full story here. How many times does this have to happen for people to wake up and realise that a child, alone and unsupervised, with a dog just isn't a good mix? I would never fully trust any dog with a child, they are animals.
Alaskan Malamutes 'should be supervised around unfamiliar small animals, as they have a strong prey instinct'. Why would you leave an animal which is described like that around a young baby? Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love dogs. I cannot wait to be in a situation where I can get one of my own and it will most definitely be a large and widely regarded 'dangerous' breed. But even if i got a Jack Russell I wouldn't be leaving it alone with my child.
My mum has an Alaskan Malamute and a Siberian Husky and I can relate to the quote about them having a strong prey instinct. They are both brilliant dogs, so soft and gentle with us and they have really loving, laid back temperaments, but there is no way in hell I would ever let them be around children alone. I have seen them run after and pluck a seagull from the sky, thrust their heads into a hedge and come out with a bird between their jaws. I don't encourage it, obviously, but I can't punish them for it, they're animals and it's their nature. They had to survive for many years by hunting for their prey. Just because humans have decided that we like their company doesn't mean that we can change what's been hardwired into them by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.
Our childhood dog was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix. He was the best dog ever. That's the only way I can describe him. The best dog. Staffies are immensely protective and in tune to their owners emotions, a soppier breed of dog you'd be hard pressed to find, but they are strong. More people every year are hospitalised because of Labrador bites than bites from a Staffordshire Bull Terrier but it is not sensationalised in the news because people aren't often killed by Labradors. A Labrador's instinct is to go for the arms and legs, they will bite and let go. A Staffy, with jaws that could bend steel, will instinctively go for the face and body and they do not let go. Also, bad people get Staffies. They think of them as a status symbol, a dog to make them look 'hard'. This is why there are so many Staffies in rehoming shelters, because people buy them thinking they're a dangerous breed then realise that they are soft as anything. I know there are exceptions, I am widely generalising, but on the most part if a dog has good owners then it will be a good dog.
People forget that these are wild animals which are living in their homes. Huskys and Malamutes are the purest breed of dog there is, the closest to the wolf, so surely they have some lasting instincts that make them wild and untameable? People hit, hurt and shout at these animals forgetting that the dog could quite easily kill them if it chose. People leave their children alone with these animals, forgetting that an elbow in the wrong place when the kids are climbing all over the dog or the kids taking food away from it could make it snap, bite, instinctively protect itself or it's prey. They are animals.