Re: Dog attack seems unlikely, Letter to the Editor, The Record, June 27.
In B.E. Kendall's letter, there are a lot of valid points - but a few clarifications need to be made. What was described by Kendall as a "misunderstood interaction" is perhaps misunderstanding on the letter writer's part.
There is an instinctual response by an aggressive or dominant dog to a submissive or young dog who shows its belly which is called "bite inhibition" - which is why the submissive dog's belly was the target.
But, if a small dog is disappearing from view underneath a very large canine, most people are going to think this is aggression, especially if it is their small dog and they are not too familiar with canine behaviour.
And, on a side note, bull mastiffs indeed were not bred to fight, and were "loyal guardians" of country estates. It was, in fact, illegal for anyone but "landed gentry" to own such a dog - total loyalty and devotion to their family, and killers of any human who dared set foot on the land at night. Poachers were considered "fair game," which saved on the cost of transporting them to Australia and the colonies.
I am a rabid dog lover (excuse the pun) and Kendall is correct - most people don't know how to handle their dogs - but everyone should have the ability to own these wonderful creatures as companions.
Kendall also notes the number of "yapping, biting, unsocialized little monsters" that are out there, but those little monsters can't inflict the damage of a larger dog, and are often the loved and loving companion of devoted older adults.
When I worked as a vet tech, the "mop" types (lhasa apsos, shih tzu, pomeranians, maltese) were almost guaranteed to bite the hands trying to trim their nails, and were muzzled - the larger, more "dangerous" bull breeds were rarely ill-behaved, because the owners were aware of what their dogs were capable of, and hadn't allowed it since puppy hood. (What is "cute" and "funny" in a small breed is not so cute when the dog is bigger.)
Again, as always, human education, human control of the animal. The government should change the law to affect the *people*, not the dogs.
The only true way to control the issue of "vicious" or "dangerous" dog breeds is to control the owner or handler of the dog. The bylaw should be set up that the owner has to be licenced, (along with the dog) and have had completed a course or exam that shows the owner understands and is aware of the capabilities of the dog, and, most importantly, can control it. And then, like driving laws, failure to show proper care and control results in tickets, or seizure and re-homing of the dog to a capable and knowledgeable owner.
N. Hebert, New Westminster