Where does the responsibility lie?

Dogs, Mumof2, responsible ownerThe other day, I was either reading an article (or listening to the news somewhere…I can’t remember which)  about a case where a dog had attacked a child inside the owner’s property (in the UK – I thought I best clarify as rules are different in other countries).

A few thoughts came to mind that I expected to be included in the details whilst I was  processing the story :

Firstly, the dog would have been destroyed as it had attacked someone. Secondly, the owner of the dog would have been dealt some type of punishment due to the nature of the incident. Thirdly, this is a rare incident in the UK as there is no real reason to have guard dogs due to the low crime rate compared to other countries.

To my surprise, neither the dog was put down nor was the owner punished as the dog was not on the banned dogs list AND the incident was on private property and therefore the owner was not punished as there is no law against that.

It’s something I am really struggling to figure out. I wouldn’t want that to happen to our dogs and make sure when people – especially children – are around that the dogs are behind a child proof gate in our kitchen.

I grew up in South Africa where, for majority of the time, dogs are working dogs first in that they help to guard you and your house and then they are your friend second. However, in the UK, dogs are generally seen as companions first and if they are working dogs (ie gun dogs, blind dogs etc) then they are still not trained to protect in the same way as guard dogs.

I guess it’s these 2 different ways of owning dogs that I am battling with in the news story. It seemed to suggest that the child walked into the garden through a gate to greet a friend when the incident happened.

Does that mean the owner is at fault in that the dog was left unattended when children were around? Or that the dog was doing it’s job by protecting the property to a person (in this case a child) that was unknown to it?

I don’t have the answers and whilst it doesn’t sit easy with me, I can’t quite figure out what my position is on the matter.

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