WHO ARE THE KILLER DOGS' VICTIMS ?
This is in response to Ed Weiss and Tom Rose's well written and informative article (in Dog Sports magazine in 1991) "Who Are the Killer Dogs?", which describes a study published in JAMA showing that virtually all fatal dog bites involve an "untrained and unsupervised family pet" dog and a child under 10 years old. My response is to highlight the additional factor of irresponsibility and negligence by the child's parents that is present in so many of these cases.
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This is in response to Ed Weiss and Tom Rose's well written and informative article "Who Are the Killer Dogs?", published in Dog Sports Magazine in 1991, which describes a study published in JAMA showing that virtually all fatal dog bites involve an "untrained and unsupervised family pet" dog and a child under 10 years old.
Weiss & Rose point out that the overwhelming majority of such fatalities involving a child under one year old or involve one under 10 years old who has entered an unauthorized area or wandered too close to a chained dog. My question is "where the hell were the parents when the child was wandering about? " And why does no one make an issue or put any emphasis upon the gross failure of parental responsibility that is involved in such instances ? The dog's owner is criticized heavily for the slightest lapse in responsibility --- as well he should be ! But the most grossly irresponsible parents (child owners) are not held to a similar standard or even a much lesser one. The parent who allows his child to invade a neighbor's yard where there is a dog of unknown qualities or who allows his dog to approach or molest a chained dog of unknown qualities --- or a dog reputed in the neighborhood to be "mean" --- is as irresponsible as one who allows his child to wander into a heavily trafficked street or to trespass in the neighbor's swimming pool. Seldom would even gross irresponsibility by a dog-owner lead to a fatal consequence without an even greater irresponsibility by the child-victim's parents.
People choose to own dogs and choose whether to train and supervise their dogs; therefore dog-owners should be held responsible for the consequences of such choice. People choose to give birth to children and choose whether to train and supervise their children; therefore parents should be held responsible for the consequence of such choice. (Unfortunately , while most would support the conclusion that those unwilling to fulfil the responsibilities of dog ownership ought to be discouraged or even forbidden from owning dogs, very few subscribe to the idea that those unwilling to fulfil the responsibilities of parentship ought likewise to be discouraged or even denied.)
At any rate, whenever the subject of dangerous dogs comes up , I suggest that we, the responsible dog owners, be quite assertive in pointing out that while it is indeed the "untrained , ignored pet" dog who does the killing, it is the "untrained , ignored child" who is killed !
UPDATE note : When I wrote this in 1991, most of the cases of children being injured or killed by dogs DID seem to be one of untrained and unsupervised children. Today (2003) we have also seen cases where the dog's owners delibrately cultivated aggressive behavior to a degree far beyond what was imaginable then. Some of these cases are ones in which even the most responsible parent would have had difficulty to protect the child. Indeed some of the victims have been adults.
Still , it is important to remember that , as Dr Ian Dunbar is fond of pointing out, a child is about 100 times as likely to be killed by his own parents as he is to be killed by a dog. For that matter , child is more likely to be killed by his schoolmates than by a dog.
|site author Pam Green||copyright 2003|
|created 1991||revised 8/17/03|
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