To the editor:
Bravo to reporter Kathy Michaels’ willingness to call out the people who should be held responsible when an incident like the recent dog attack in West Kelowna occurs. (Owners Need to be Accountable for Pet’s Wild Side, Feb. 24 Capital News.)
More often than not, out of fear of repercussions by those who choose to keep dangerous dogs, people are afraid to stand up and call it what it is. My son was a victim of an attack by an aggressive dog and every time I hear of another “incident,” it makes me cringe at what could of happened. We were fortunate—so many others though, are not.
In this very heated debate there are two very obvious camps that have a bit of a sandbox in the middle where people try to come together to create better regulations to manage those who don’t respect their neighbours enough to properly maintain a level of safety. In our opinion, it is 100 per cent up to owners to make sure that their dog is never put in a situation to fail, like these dogs in West Kelowna did when they were able to do what they did (no matter the circumstance, whether the dogs escaped or were allowed to roam freely).
One saying that comes up every time there is a dog attack (and we have followed dozens) since August, is “it’s the owner.” If that is the case, what do we as a society do?
We applaud your statement Kathy, about related punishment for the human in the situation—perhaps the time has come. If a dog attacks and causes a victim injury, is it criminal negligence causing bodily harm? If a dog kills, is it manslaughter? In some US cases, people have gone to jail for the negligence that led to their dogs causing human deaths.
The dog owning public needs to step up and speak up. Stop defending lousy owners by placing blame on the victim.
I agree whole heartedly there has to be more than a fine and promise of any kind of replacement—it’s not enough. The trauma dog attack victims suffers can greatly impact how they view what should be man’s best friend, they can be understandably fearful, but victims are also demeaned when they are valued less than the dog that committed an act of violence against them.
No more victim blame—it quite often impedes their ability to move past what happened to them.
We call for:
(1) mandatory public muzzling of dogs deemed aggressive when in public
(2) proper containment of dogs deemed aggressive both indoors and out, this would include mandatory crating when the dog isn’t in full view of adults
(3) signage on homes where aggressive dogs are being housed
(4) aggressive dogs can only be walked by someone 18 or older
(5) mandatory six- to eight-foot fence around yard where aggressive dogs are being kept
(6) mandatory insurance for those who house aggressive dogs
(7) higher licensing fees for dogs deemed aggressive
(8) The Regional District Dog Control office must be given more authority in the destruction of dogs deemed dangerous by their own actions— irresponsible owners shouldn’t have the final say.
But most of all, we call out to the dog owning public—license your dog, keep it on a leash. If you want to own a breed that is statistically more dangerous than other breeds, you should be more vigilant. The public deserves that.