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Op-Ed: When a dog is not man’s best friend

By Alexander Baron     Oct 1, 2011 in World
The ‘News Shopper’, the local freesheet for Bromley, is running a campaign against dangerous dogs; this is one campaign that is long overdue.
The News Shopper campaign is far from the first, but its "shop a dog" suggestion is somewhat novel, and if statistics mean anything, the ones cited by the paper are horrifying, as is the photograph exhibited here of a 90 year old woman who was savaged by a Staffordshire bull terrier.
Attacks of this nature by dogs are of course nothing new, some have long been bred to hunt, to police, or even to inflict wilful injury on other dogs or human beings.
Two notorious cases of such attacks in Britain, one fairly recent, one not so, are the tragic death of Ellie Lawrenson, and the horrific mauling suffered by Rukhsana Khan.
Ellie was only five years old when she was savaged to death by a pit bull terrier at her grandmother’s St Helens home on New Year’s Day, 2007.
The dog was no stranger to attacks, and appears to take an instant dislike to Ellie, this is a well-known phenomenon, dogs can especially be jealous of very young children. The animal seized her by the throat and shook her. Ellie’s grandmother and the dog’s owner ended up in court over the attack. She was cleared of manslaughter, but Kiel Simpson, Ellie’s 24 year old uncle, was gaoled for eight weeks by Liverpool magistrates for the less serious offence of owning a dog banned under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Although this sentence does not sound severe, his real punishment is that he has to live with the fact that he was partially responsible for the death of his young niece.
The other high profile case is that of the 1991 attack on 6 year old Rukhsana Khan; this quite vicious attack shocked the nation and led to the passage of the aforementioned Dangerous Dogs Act. Unfortunately, the legislation was drafted in haste, something that often makes for bad law. Fifteen years later, when Rukhsana’s local newspaper the Bradford Telegraph & Argus launched a campaign to tighten up the law, she said she was still terrified of dogs; and was speaking publicly for the first time about her terrifying ordeal, in which the beast was said to have shaken her like a rag doll.
The 2006 campaign doesn’t appear to have done much good; we can only hope that the new one, and probably more important a police crackdown on the import, breeding and owning of dangerous breeds will halt such horrific attacks on young and old alike.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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