In view of periodic canine attacks, it’s incumbent upon dog owners to be more responsible
THE periodic mauling and killing of humans by canines are giving all dogs a bad name. Suddenly, because of the behaviour of some dogs, all dogs are viewed askance; all seemingly on probation. That is an unfair burden to put on an animal which can only be as good or as bad as its owner does or does not train him to be.
In the latest case, a septuagenarian was killed by a bull terrier -- a breed of dog generally chosen as a companion, not a guard. What caused it to attack the man in the first place is not known; but since it was a reasonably strong dog with teeth, whose animal instincts would be to go after any moving thing that comes close to its territory, it would have been a creature to be wary of, even if it were well-trained and socialised. Small, fluffy dogs, which are often indulged and underestimated because they are so cute, can also do damage, albeit to a lesser degree, if they are not kept in control. In the absence of the owner, coupled with free access to the unsuspecting public, even a seemingly harmless dog can get into trouble.
Problems arise when humans adopt dogs without understanding and respecting the nature of the animal, and the responsibilities of ownership. Any dog has the potential to be a killing machine; and if not trained and socialised properly, given the right (or rather, wrong) circumstances, any dog can become a killing machine. The only difference is that, though dogs kill without malice, the human world can still punish them with the death penalty -- as if they had committed the act with intention.
Because of a perceived rise in the crime rate, more people are thought to be getting fierce guard dogs, without realising that good guard dogs are the result of training, not abuse or neglect. A dog that is untrained would be similar to an enforcement officer who has not been told what his duties and responsibilities are, what the limits of his powers are, how to react to stressful situations, and when, how and to what extent to shoot. The difference is, a human is capable of rational thought, while a dog is not.
The human world, and its rules, seem stacked up against dogs. And in Malaysia, the penalties against negligent owners are woefully inadequate. If the issue of dog maulings is to be dealt with effectively, the issue of ownership must be addressed more seriously. Dog ownership should be a tightly-regulated privilege, not a right.