Friday, 27 May 2016

Sorry, but children trump dogs. Every time.

I'm an animal lover.

No, scrap that.  I'm an animal LIKER.

I think most animals are great (more of a cat than a dog person, can't see the point of hamsters, can live without seeing a skunk in the flesh) and all deserve to be looked after properly if kept as pets.

Before I had kids, I had a cat - Bobbins - whom I loved, almost like a child.  At the time, I was struggling with my fertility and this poor moggie became my surrogate baby.  I haemorrhaged money at the vets when she was run over at just two years old; and still feel a little sad when now - about ten years on - I think of her.

So I get it.  I get that animals can fill a space in your heart.  I know you love your dog, OK?


On Thursday afternoon this week, my lovely little boy (just turned four) was walking up the road in my little, safe town, wearing his favourite yellow t-shirt and holding his grandma's hand.  I was slightly behind, his sister had run ahead to ring the front doorbell.

Along the road strolled three teenage boys - probably about 16 or so - with two dogs.  One, was on a lead, the other - not a breed I recognised, but Labrador-sized with a leather collar - was loose.

My son, standing on the little curb near our house looking both ways, paid no attention to the dog, as it lunged towards him, sinking his teeth in his bottom and the top of his legs.  My mum told me later that she was sure the dog was going to continue to savage him.

As it was, his bite afforded him a trip to the doctors; we went and reported the dog to the police (they are having a vet assess him to see if he's deemed dangerous and I'm happy to rest with the decision).  I am left with the kind of fear that only a mum who's seen their child in real danger can know.

Yet, when I told friends (admittedly, cyber-friends) about the incident, one commented that there were always two sides to any story and asked whether my child had "done anything."

I'm not an overly protective mum - I think a few cuts and scrapes are par for the course of a normal upbringing.  I like the fact that my children enjoy a bit of "rough and tumble" in the garden.  Timmy has been knocked down and nudged by animals in the past.

This was an unprovoked, sinister incident of biting.

And left me wondering why it is that we humans seem more ready to defend animals than children.

Why is it, for example - as another, more rational, friend pointed out - that a local charity is rescuing dogs from far flung countries when there are hundreds to be helped closer to home and (in case anyone hasn't noticed) a few thousand children struggling in Calais?

Why does someone of my acquaintance keep dogs so unstable that her best friend dreads her regular visits out of genuine fear?

When did humans turn against their biological imperative and start to love puppies more than babies?

And why are people more inclined to explain away the behaviour of dangerous dogs than try to understand unstable teens?

I'm an animal liker.

But, for me at least, it's children first.  Every time.


Sean Fleming said...

That's absolutely awful. I hope he makes a full recovery soon.

I don't think any reasonable person puts animals before children. What you've encountered is people's desire to make sense of the world around them - to rationalise things away. No one wants to live in a world where bad things can just randomly happen, it unnerves people. So they look for excuses and explanations, and they say stupid things. But, of course, sometimes bad things do just randomly happen. Mind you, when some idiot isn't in control of their dog it doesn't help things.

I have two dogs and two children. The dog that bit your son should be put down. It's harsh, but that's the way it is.

Gillian Harvey said...

Thanks Sean - it was pretty scary! As long as whatever measures taken (e.g. insisting it's muzzled in public) stop it happening to anyone else, I'll be happy. We are very thankful that it was his bottom not arm/leg, etc. Could have been worse, but still shocking x

Dolores Doolittle said...

An horrendous thing to happen, and I can`t imagine you and your mum`s terror on witnessing it.

I love dogs (today I met a gorgeous, placid, crumpled Shar-Pei version,) but of course children come first and the Imbecile not in charge of the leadless dog should be shoved down an Oubliette for eighty years. at least.

May your son`s injuries and his memory of receiving them be quick to heal.

Gillian Harvey said...

Thank you! The owner got in touch yesterday and she was horrified about the whole incident. She's only just acquired the dog, and is going to look into its history. Suffice to say it will be kept on a lead in future and she won't be asking others to walk it. She was very nice though, which made everything seem better! Hopefully the dog will have a good home and be properly trained now!

Dolores Doolittle said...

Really pleased to hear that! - feels like the streets will be safer and the dog will be very happy taking chunks only from his DinnerBowl. (You`ve probably saved quite a lot of bottoms...)

Cat said...

Poor boy! I am fed up with people prioritizing dogs over children and it seems to be happening more and more frequently - even where I live in Italy which used to seem so child-friendly. Dogs have to be muzzled on the bus but they never are and every time I have asked an owner to put a muzzle on their dog (which on our crowded, standing-room-only buses means that the dogs teeth are at the same level as my child's head) I just get a load of abuse in return.

Jean | said...

Gillian, I am glad to hear the owner has turned out to be a reasonable person. I don't have at this time either small children or dogs, but I like well-trained versions of both! :D Hope your little boy is recovering well.

Gillian Harvey said...

Thank you everyone :)

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