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Another Dog Killed Because Of Bad Parenting

I'm sick of hearing about dogs being killed as a result of bad parenting!

A Terrible Occurrence

It's the 30th of August 2015, and I just saw on the news that a little girl has lost her hand. She put her hand through a small hole at the bottom of a fence to pat some dogs, and got bitten by one of them. She was taken to hospital but her hand couldn't be saved, and the dog who bit her will be put to sleep.

This incident makes me both sad and angry. I'm sad that the little girl has lost her hand, and angry that the dog will now lose his or her life.

Was This A Dog Attack At All?

The media are calling this incident a dog attack. The UK's Daily Mail has used the sensationalised headline Eight-Year-Old Girl Has Her Hand Ripped Off In A Vicious Dog Attack After She Attempted To Pat An Alaskan Malamute. The Newcastle Herald and Nine News have less dramatic headlines (respectively: Valentine Dog Attack: Girl, 8, Loses Hand and Eight-Year-Old Girl Loses Hand In Dog Attack), but they still label the incident as a dog attack.

As far as I'm concerned, this incident is not a dog attack at all. If you stick your hand in an animal's territory and you get hurt, that's not an attack. That's an animal responding to an intrusion. The dog did bite the girl, yes, but only because she stuck her hand in a hole in the fence; I think it's fair to say the girl was bitten by a dog - NOT that it was a dog attack.

So seeing as the dog responded quite naturally to an intrusion of his or her territory, the question is: why is the dog being blamed for being a dog?

Questions That Need Answering

In my opinion, this whole ugly episode is yet another case of an animal being blamed for the irresponsible actions of people.

From reading various reports, it seems there was a group children playing under the supervision of an adult when all this happened. So my first question would have to be: what was the supervising adult doing when the girl wandered away from the group to put her hand through a hole in a fence?

My second question is: why didn't this child's parents teach her that she shouldn't be sticking her hand into holes in fences for any reason, including to pat a dog?

And my final question is: why are neither the supervising adult nor the girl's parents taking any responsibility for what happened, but instead allowing the dog to be killed? If it's anyone's fault that this girl lost her hand, it's theirs - not the dog's!

Dead Dog

Despite my ire at the supervising adult and the girl's parents, I think I'm most angry at the owners of the dog (I won't call them my favoured term "guardians" - they don't deserve it).

Their knee-jerk reaction has been to kill their dog. Kill their dog. If someone put their hand into a 200 degree oven and ended up losing their hand, would they get rid of the oven? I'm sure they wouldn't, as it would be silly to blame an inanimate object, right? People would think they were lunatics if they blamed the oven. Strangely, this is not so if the blame is put on a living being. That, apparently, is a perfectly normal thing to is killing the being in question.

And who better to blame than an animal - someone who can't speak and therefore not be able to defend themselves? Because immediate blame is what everyone seems to want to dish out when such things happen. When a surfer is bitten by a shark, random sharks are hunted down and killed. When people wander into croc-infested waters and get bitten, crocs are hunted down and killed. And when dogs defend their territory against an intrusion, they're also killed. This reaction is pure stupidity. There's no logic in it. Sorry, but if you intrude into an animal's home and get hurt, you can't blame the animal.

In That Case, Who Is To Blame?

If the dog isn't to blame, it's fair to ask: who is to blame?

The supervising adult is to blame for not supervising properly, and the girl's parents are to blame for not teaching their child that sticking your hand into holes in fences is never a good idea - especially if there's a dog behind that fence.

Let me be clear and say that I don't blame the little girl. Yes, she's old enough to grasp the idea that she shouldn't poke her hand into holes in fences. And yes, she's old enough to grasp the idea that she shouldn't pat unknown dogs without permission from her parents and without asking the dog's person if it's okay. But if her parents haven't taught her those things, she can't be expected to know them. She's a child, after all.

But what if the girl's parents had taught her, and she was disobeying them? Well, then it falls on the supervising adult to step in. My point is that, at 8, a child depends on adults to guide her, and they all failed her. They failed the dog too, who is paying with his or her life for their failure.

So What Should Be Done?

For starters, better supervising and parenting are required. But, no matter what should be done, without a doubt what shouldn't be done is to kill this poor dog. A dog is a dog. A dog will protect his or her territory from intruders, and it's both foolish and unfair to fault a dog for simply being a dog.

Post Script

I wrote the above Dog Blog on the day I heard the report on the news. It seems that, contrary to what was initially reported, the matter is under investigation and the dog in question might not lose his or her life.

This might be in part to the overwhelming amount of people (the majority, it seems) who see things as I do. I must say that I'm astounded that so many take my point-of-view, as the knee-jerk "KILL THE ANIMAL!" reaction is pretty standard in cases of humans getting hurt by animals. It's pleasantly surprising to see that this might not actually end up being the case here. I guess we have to wait and see if miracles do indeed happen.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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