good dog bad parents

Recently a little girl died here in Fort Worth and this is undoubtedly a tragedy. I first encountered this news on some late night news, I have no idea what channel, I’m sorry. Here is an article from the star-telegram.

I know enough about the media to know they always have agendas and the news is shaded to reflect that. I know they omit details or neglect to collect details as they see fit. That said, it’s virtually a guarantee I’m not in possession of all the facts.

As a dog owner/trainer/person I have many mixed feelings about this incident and have not delayed posting until I could sort them out somewhat.

It is reported the dog was a rottweiler, a completely irrelevant detail unless you want to influence breed hatred.

…injured by a 17-year-old Rottweiler…

If you search the internet for articles on the incident you can find ‘bitten’ or ‘mauled’ instead of injured. I find it hard to  believe mauled is accurate; if it were more than a single bite every article would use mauled in big bold letters. Single bites are indicative of defensive rather than aggressive motives.

The dog’s age is included for some reason I cannot fathom, except to note that every dog over 12 I’ve met is blind, deaf, and/or arthritic. The article goes on to state:

…The animal’s vaccinations weren’t current…

To the best of my knowledge the only vaccination required to get a city tag in FT. Worth is a rabies shot. I don’t know why they reference ‘vaccinations’ plural. Perhaps they seek to impress upon the reader the pet owner’s lack of responsibility. I would think they would mention rabies specifically for shock value if they could, and mention the fact the owner will be cited by the city for violation of some pet code. Which is not mentioned.

the location of the homes and shared fence is mentioned.

…she climbed though a hole in the fence of her backyard and into an enclosure with the dog…

The houses back up to each other.

This leads me to believe neither the child’s parents or the dog’s owner is concerned about the hole in the fence or the dog’s proximity. Incidentally, where were the child’s parents while she crawled across the lawn and through the fence and into the neighbor’s yard? Did they routinely leave their 3 1/2 yr old daughter unattended in the back yard?

“It was an unobserved event, so we’ll work closely with investigators to determine what happened.”

The number of silent dog bites is low … extremely low. The number of silent toddlers being bitten is even lower.

My dog is trained to warn me of tresspassers. He does so before he asks their age. He has a natural temperment that allows him to distinguish between strangers and friends and I have attempted to reinforce this through training. He is also 1/3 the age of the dog in the article. 17×7 is 119. How many 119yr old people are aware of their surroundings?

While I agree the results are tragic, I feel the responsibility here lies not with the pet or the pets owner but with the absent parents. The short video I saw on TV showed the dog lying quietly, and the newspaper picture certainly doesn’t reflect a violent dog. Violent dogs don’t walk quietly with their heads down and eyes on the ground.

It is likely, had the dog exhibited violent tendencies, the fence would have been in better condition. This child was not only out of sight of the parents, she was out of earshot as well. She was unattended long enough to traverse her own backyard and the neighbor’s. While toddlers are often fleet of foot, they are not noted for their ability to navigate obstacles such as holes in the fence. They certainly are not renowned for climbing into enclosures with barking snarling violent dangerous things that outweigh them by 75 pounds.

The news brief on tv said the child’s body was found by the dog’s owner. Again .. where were the parents?

My interpretation of this news is that an old deaf blind dog, in his own yard, minding his own business, was pounced on by an excited unattended toddler/tresspasser who just wanted to play with the big fuzzy stuffed animal.

Seriously, violent dogs bark and snarl and stick their head through holes in the fence. No toddler is going to crawl through that hole. No toddler is going anywhere near that hole.

I am not in any way trying to diminish the fact that 2 families lost loved ones in this tragic incident. My point is simply that there is no mention of any parental responsibility. Had this been a toddler and a pool or a toddler and traffic or even a toddler and stairs the results would surely be much the same. The world is full of wonderful exciting enticing things for a toddler: ants, bees, broken glass, spiders, snakes, etc.

Our home is surrounded by dog owners and parents and dogs and children. I’ve spoken with them all and any holes in our fences are addressed immediately. The neighbors all know the children don’t get to play with the dogs without supervision. Loose dogs and stray animals are addressed as soon as possible, by adults. Responsible adults.

The last loose animal incident on our street was not many days ago, at the school bus stop on the corner. Animal control didn’t respond for 4 hours. The incident was dealt with by the residents. Responsible residents.

I’m sure some people will want me drawn and quartered for my perspective. That’s fine, the first amendment doesn’t discriminate, you’re entitled to your opinion too. This was not the fault of the fence builder, or vaccinations, this is the fault of a parent who put their child on the ground and walked off. It saddens me to say this but there is no place on earth where it is safe to leave a child unattended. 15 year old children are not safe, the idea that a toddler would be safe is insane.


Posted on January 20, 2009, in pets. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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