Dog owners must assume responsibility for their pets

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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The story we have run today about the horrific mauling to death of a pregnant deer by ‘a pack of dogs,’ is sad enough on its own.

But in the context of the ongoing problem of dogs attacking other animals, and even people, when left off their leads, it is doubly so.

It is not even two weeks since we carried the story of Stuart Green.

The 42-year-old, from Stamshaw in Portsmouth, was banned from owning dogs for five years after his Staffordshire bull terriers attacked a Jack Russell, leaving it with injuries so severe it later had to be put down.

And witnesses have again reported that Staffordshire bull terriers were involved in this incident.

We must, though, be careful not to demonise breeds unnecessarily.

There is a law in this country already relating to the behaviour of dangerous dogs, and ever since the Dangerous Dogs Act was introduced in the 1990s, it has proved controversial.

The question of whether it is the dog that is dangerous, or the owner who is entirely responsible for their dog’s demeanour is one that has tied legislators up in knots.

The problem often lays with a lack of training for the animals.

And we would repeat calls we have made before for focusing the law on making sure that the dogs are better trained.

Making sure that owners are better educated about their pets, their character and likely behaviour would certainly not do any harm either.

If you want to own a dog, you should be willing to accept responsibility for it. These sorts of dogs are often used as status symbols, but their owners must remember that they are also living creatures that need tending to.

We want dogs to be allowed off their leads in the right place at the right time. Punishing them for their owners’ lack of responsibility and accountability would not be fair.

But first of all, the owner, or owners of the dogs responsible for this terrible attack need to be found and brought to justice.

If you know the person responsible, contact the council on the number at the end of the story.