Dangerous dog attacks on the rise
It has been regularly in the news that dog attacks are on the rise and as a result some dog breeds have been left with a stigma attached to them.
In November four-year-old Lexi Branson was killed in Leicestershire after being attacked by the family bulldog which was not a banned breed. Jade Lomas-Anderson was also mauled to death by a pack of dogs near her home in Atherton, Greater Manchester. Both of these dogs are not on the banned list however had clearly been badly treated to react in this way.
Research from the University of Lincoln now suggests that the dog’s owner and the environment they are brought up in is more likely to affect and be responsible for the dog’s behaviour rather than hereditary genes from the dog breed.
It is currently illegal to own dogs such as a Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Toso, Dogo Argentino and Flio Brasileiro under the Dangerous Dog Act 1991 however research has shown that it may not be the breed that creates an aggressive dog.
This perception hasn’t been helped by gangs and criminals who often are attracted to the banned dog breeds, using them as weapons otherwise known as status dogs. These groups of people see these dogs as dangerous and use them to scare off people, usually training them to attack on command.
Dog training is a large part of a dog’s upbringing and after the Universities research it is evident that the aggression within a dog has to come from more than just the breed they are.
Professor Daniel Mills said: “This work provides good scientific evidence to explain why the pursuit by governments of breed specific legislation to reduce the risk of harm to citizens is not only doomed to failure, but also giving people a false sense of security, which may actually be making the situation worse.”
The Kennel Club has recently been campaigning for the overhaul of the Dangerous Dog legislation. They claim that the existing breed specific law fails to protect the general public and want it to be changed to place more responsibility on the owners than on the dog breed itself.
The University conducted research which showed the dogs appearance affects people’s perception of the breed which regularly results in overgeneralization of how they behave and how they are treated. Features such as short hair, well muscled and bull breeds are regularly judged as those with dangerous characteristics.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We agree that all dogs have the potential to be dangerous in the wrong hands. That’s why we’re toughening up laws so that dog owners can be brought to justice wherever an attack takes place. We’re also giving local authorities and the police new powers to take preventative action before an attack occurs.”
The study was published in the Human Animal Interaction Bulletin of the American Psychological Association with hope that there will soon be a change within the public perception of these dogs and an amendment made to the Dangerous Dog Act.