I think I ought to get straight to the point and answer my own question.
Are Kit Malthouse's views on how to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs moronic?
Why yes. Yes they are.
Kit Malthouse, writing in The Times newspaper has parroted, almost word for word, the rhetoric and mistruths spewed up by former Home Secretary Ken Baker in calling for a ‘gentle phasing out’ of ‘weapon dogs’.If ever you needed evidence that the ‘status dog’ message was going to cause more harm than good (as I have often repeated myself) then here we have it.
The RSPCA has their own ‘status dog’ campaign. I know this, because they sometimes send me emails asking for donations to help with the ‘status dog’ problem.
Still, to this day, nobody has EVER been able to give me a legal or even a loose definition of what a ‘status dog’ actually is, but let’s move on from that little oversight to the rantings of Malthouse – who is also a member of the London Assembly.
In his Times piece, he writes:
certain types of dogs are inherently more aggressive than other. At the top of the list are bull breeds, developed for one purpose: to attack and fight.
Bull terriers were bred as weapons, to duel or bait with, for their owner’s entertainment and status, and only once we recognise their atavistic instincts, as those who train them to fight do, can we start to frame legislation that may have a lasting effect. As well as punishing owners appropriately for use of this weapon, we should be bolder about removing it from circulation altogether.
I have emphasised the last line and I’m sure it will send a chill down the spine.
What, exactly, is he proposing?
We already HAVE breed specific legislation! We have the law that his equally ignorant partner in bull breed prejudice implemented in 1991. How can it be that we’ve had a law for nearly 20 years that was designed to do EXACTLY what these two are calling for, and yet the ‘status dog problem’ is, we are told, bigger than ever?
The irony seeping out of the entire article is pungent. But it gets worse, much worse.
In Ontario, that is what has happened. The provincial government produced a law that banned all bull breeds and derivatives, including pitbulls and the Staffordshire bull terrier. All such existing dogs had to be registered, neutered and muzzled, leading to the bull-types dying out and owners learning to love the labrador or pug. The result? A huge fall in the number of dog-related injuries and incidents. This approach manages to be both humane to those who have a dog of this type and draws a line under the problem.
Serious penalties will make dog owners think twice, but surely it is time for us to look to our Commonwealth cousins and find a way gently to phase out the canine weapons that terrorise the streets of Peckham, Toxteth and Moss Side.
You may have noticed, Mr Malthouse is actually calling for a ‘gentle phasing out’ (which means killing, by the way – gentle phasing out sounds better, but it means killing) of bull breeds.
If you own a bull breed ‘or derivative’ I can imagine how your feeling right now.
But don’t worry, you can just ‘learn to love the Labrador or the Pug’.
Yes, here is a man who is clearly in touch, who clearly understands how to ‘fix’ the problem of irresponsible dog ownership – it involves ‘gentle phasing out’. That’s his final solution.
But let’s have a look at the height of his ill informed idiocy.
The provincial government produced a law that banned all bull breeds and derivatives, including pitbulls and the Staffordshire bull terrier. All such existing dogs had to be registered, neutered and muzzled, leading to the bull-types dying out and owners learning to love the labrador or pug.
The above is categorically untrue. Absolutely categorically not true. Don’t believe me? Well speak to anyone in Ontario about how well their breed ban is working out and ask anyone who had their dog taken and killed if they’ve, instead ‘learned to love the Labrador or Pug’ instead. (I’m not even TOUCHING the health issues related to a Pug, they’d be wasted on this guy.)
The process he’s described is the exact process we implemented in 1991. It’s BSL. And yet here we are, moaning about the rise in ‘weapon dogs’.
When will these people realise that the definition of madness is to do the same things over and over and expect a different result?
Want a further insight in to his thinking? Read this:
Clearly, owners are part of the solution: they are in possession of a weapon and should be treated as such
Yes, you read that correctly. Owners are only ‘part’ of the solution, this final solution for bull breeds.
Owners are ALL of the solution.
Dogs, all of them, are the product of their upbringing and environment.
Now, let’s examine some stats shall we:
Cadey-Lee Deacon: Killed by her grandparent’s dogs at her grandparent’s home (Rottweiler)
Ellie Lawrenson: Killed by her uncle’s dog whilst at her grandparent’s home in care of grandmother (Pit Bull)
Archie-Lee Hirst: Killed by his grandparent’s dog whilst in the care of a young babysitter (Rottweiler)
Jaden Mack: Killed by his grandmother’s dogs whilst in care of grandmother who was asleep (Staffie and Jack Russell)
Now, remind me – which of these dogs are the ‘weapon’ dogs terrorising our city streets.
These are the dogs on the fatality list. Fatalities caused by dogs occur, almost without single exception, in the family home and tend to be carried out by dogs belonging to the family of the person (usually a child) who is killed.
There is a pattern to fatal dog attacks (have a read of the stats I’ve just posted, even a moronic legislator should be able to spot the pattern).
Malthouse opened his piece by citing The RSPCA:
The RSPCA says its hospitals are “full to the brim” with weapon dogs
Could we do a BETTER job of ‘branding’ these dogs, because, you know, I think there’s still one or two of the thuglife on the street who haven’t heard yet.
Let’s call them; ‘Pyscho dogs’ – ‘Street killa’ – ‘Nike dogs’ – ‘Thugz dogz’ – ‘Beast dogz’.
Because the ONLY job being done with ignorant, ill informed and, frankly, despicable statements like this is creating a DEMAND for the dog from the very people they’re moaning about.
Previously, I wrote ‘What does Alice Cooper and the Dangerous Dogs Act Have in Common?’
By banning something, by whipping up a frenzy about it, by ‘branding’ it, you create a DEMAND for it from the exact demographic you are complaining about.
The history of the world teaches us lessons in this respect.
When you get a locality which becomes a hotspot for suicides, the media coverage and ‘hype’ adds to the problem. We know this to be true.
When you give certain media coverage to the types of teens who enter schools and take lives, it adds to the problem. We know this be true.
When you stick a label on a record ‘Parental Discretion is Advised’ you may as well have done the marketing yourself, to the demographic who you are trying to ‘shield’.
When we spit up a frenzy about ‘weapon dogs’ you are, I guarantee, whetting the appetite for these breeds by the demographic who are responsible for the suffering.
Ignorance may be bliss, but it leads to an exacerbation of the problem.
These labels don’t help. They hinder.
Let’s remind ourselves of some definitive facts:
Cruelty to animals is a crime.
Deliberately intimidating people (with dog or without) is a crime.
So, how about this for a radical idea – if you catch someone being cruel to a dog, you prosecute them under the laws that were put in place for that crime. If you catch someone deliberately intimidating people (with a dog or without) then you prosecute them under the laws that apply. Simply going on ANOTHER dog killing spree will not only fail to resolve the problem, it will spell disaster, resentment and any of the many THOUSANDS of responsible owners of beautiful bull breeds whom Matlhouse would like to ‘gently phase out’, you might want to contact him and let him know your opinion on whether you should be forced to ‘learn to love the Labrador or Pug’.
It is already a crime to do what these youths are being accused of.
A continuation of the failed policies of the Baker government will spell yet more failure.
That there are people who hold these views and happen to have a position of power, makes me – genuinely – ashamed to share the same planet as them, let alone the same country.
Something interesting to read: why do dogs bark?