Our condolences go out to the young child that was attacked last Friday in Surrey. Justice Paradis, only three years old, was rushed to the hospital after being attacked by the dog that lived on the property. This is a horrible incident but, there were many components at play that could have been controlled to make it preventable. Children should ALWAYS be supervised around dogs. Haze, the dog in question, spent a lot of time on the end of a chain, and was reported to not be good with children. So while our hearts go out to the Paradis family, our hearts also go out to poor Haze. He never stood a chance and instead of looking at the factors that created Haze, the media blames the dog.
One of our volunteers wrote this letter to The Province in response to the sensationalized reporting that occurred after the attack.
I am a law-abiding, responsible citizen who happens to have fallen in love with American Pit bull Terriers. I love these dog for the amazing relationship and bond they develop with humans. As a family therapist my dog has assisted me to work with high-risk children and youth who are otherwise slow to trust people.
As a former Animal Control Officer I have also seen firsthand that any dog can bite. For instance, in Vancouver over 50% of dog bite incidents involve German Shepherds; while in Delta over 50% of dog bites involve Golden Retrievers, followed by Labrador Retrievers. What most of the dogs have in common is poor breeding, poor socialization and irresponsible owners. The most recent incident involving the Surrey toddler is reprehensible, but was entirely avoidable. Keeping any dog outside on a chain is a recipe for disaster. I have been bitten twice by dogs- one a Bouvier, the other a German Shepherd- both these dogs were under-socialized, poorly bred and had owners that were not very responsible. I did not blame the breed of dog, I placed blame where it belonged, with the owners. Irresponsible owners are attracted to multiple different dog breeds and when one breed of dog is not easily available they just move onto another breed of dog. In Lower Mainland cities where Breed Specific Legislation is in effect one tends to see more Dobermans, Rottweilers, and Mastiff breeds owned by irresponsible owners as these dogs are thought to be "tough looking" by people who should not own any breed of dog. In response to dog bite strength, German Shepherds and Rottweilers have actually been found to have a stronger bite than Pit Bulls, therefore if a ban was going to be based upon potential bite damage then other breeds would have to also be considered for the ban. Instead of considering a breed ban, it is time to create laws that will actually help prevent bite incidents. Start regulating breeders to help ensure that only dogs with sounds temperaments are being bred, make it illegal to keep dogs tied up on chains,
create stronger laws that effect irresponsible owners whose dogs bite.
This letter represents a fact-based approached and recommends great alternatives to decrease dog-bite incidents. Blame the dog and this will happen again; blame the problem and create bylaws to target these problems and you will become part of the solution.