Editor: better dog control laws
IF YOU own a dog and it gets out of its enclosure and enters private or public property and kills another animal, or bites somebody and in doing so breaks the skin, that dog must be put down. The owner must be responsible for any medical or veterinary costs.
Draconian as it may seem, such a severe sentence will only need to be imposed on a few occasions before dog owners take resolute steps to secure and restrain their dogs.
As it stands at the moment, councils are bewildered as to where to strike the balance between duty to dog owner, duty to the aggrieved and obedience to the law.
The interplay of several pieces of legislation has produced paralysis in the authorities.
Or at least, such glacial progress in assessing and dealing with dog attacks as to resemble paralysis.
At the moment, animal management laws and privacy legislation operate in a dysfunctional way.
Provisions are clumsily drafted and the by-product is a leniency that favours the errant dog and its owner.
Even when owners of the dogs have exhibited a reckless disregard for the wider safety of other animals, two and four legged, the law remains an ass.
How many animal carcasses have to be cleaned away before somebody steps in to sort the mess out?
How many family pets have to be savaged to death before the strong action we expect will be taken?
How many families have to live through the trauma of having favoured animals mauled to death before the pendulum swings back toward right thinking and responsible pet owners? Accidents do happen and dogs can escape control and scrutiny. But dogs can terrorise neighbourhoods and destroy other animals. Dogs can and have killed humans.
If you have a dog capable of that, you have a heightened responsibility to society, and to the dog, to protect it and us from its more primal instincts.
There should be no three strikes rule to this. This proposal is not put forward as a draft piece of legislation, or to encourage us to revert to an eye-for-an-eye society.
It is a remedy to a clear case of dangers not being recognised and the wider world not being adequately protected.