Dog v Cat – The Fundamental Differences

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Biased? Me?

I’ve chained two videos together (above). I believe it very fairly captures the essence of character in the age old dogs v cats debate.

Video evidence. Compelling.

All Dog Breeders Aren’t Evil Villains, But Some Are

Ever since the airing of Pedigree Dogs Exposed on the BBC, debate has raged about the role dog breeders have played in creating a mess of some much loved, but sadly debilitated dog breeds.

There have been accusations of broad brush labelling of all breeders and many have felt personally slighted by the vitriol born of shock expressed by many viewers of Jemima Harrison’s documentary.

So, we must ask: are dog breeders all evil villains?

At the risk of over simplifying, no. No, all breeders are not evil villains.

But what we do have a duty to do is to ensure the public is aware of this. To ensure the dog buying public understands what is and what isn’t a responsible supplier of dogs – be it a breeder or a rescue.

“A rescue? Surely they’re ALL responsible?” I hear you ponder.

Well no. Let’s not kid ourselves on that front either. As much as it is a total fallacy to suggest that all breeders are bad, all breeders are good, all dogs are nice and friendly etc it is equally naive (and plain wrong) to assume that all rescues are, by definition, responsible suppliers of dogs. There are many people who work in the rescue / animal welfare sector who know only too well how difficult it is trying to educate people about the many benefits of adopting a shelter dog when there are some ‘rescues’ which are actually nothing more than glorified dog dealerships.

So we have to try and come up with some clear guidance on what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘responsible’ supplier of dogs. And boy, it is NOT easy. Let’s prove it.

‘Puppy farmer’ – What IS a puppy farmer? There is no clear description, no definition, no out and out consensus agreement.

Is it purely someone who deals in volume of puppies? Is it someone who earns their living from the production and supply of dogs? Is puppy farming genrically ‘bad’? Should all ‘puppy farmers’ be tarred with the same brush in the manner that many good breeders have complained about being unfairly associated with bad breeders?

Let’s look at it from a purely volume based argument: Breeder A produces 100 puppies per year, invests in first class health care, screening and selects only the finest stock. He charges a premium for his puppies because he feels he is producing a superior ‘product’ to the ‘market average’. His ambition is to improve his breed, he happens to deal in volumes larger than the ‘average’ breeder. He earns his living from his trade in puppies.

Is he a puppy farmer? Probably. Hard to think of another way to describe him

Breeder B: produces two litters per year from their pet bitch. They use a stud dog that belongs to ‘a bloke up the road’, they don’t health test and only breed ‘for a hobby’. The breeder openly has no idea or intent for improving the breed and sells the puppies at a price far below the ‘market average’ for that particular breed.

Not a puppy farmer by any stretch, but which is the ‘worse’ or ‘irresponsible’ breeder?

It could be argued that breeder B is easily the worse breeder as they are simply contributing to the volume of dogs produced without any regard for the general improvement of the breed.

But breeder A: is (probably) a puppy farmer.

So what we must try and do is try and cut through some of these generic terms that are bandied about when we are, effectively, talking about just TWO types of breeder: good ones – and – bad ones. It really is that simple.

So, dear readers, I’d like to open the floor to you – in 50 words or less, what is the definition of a ‘good’ breeder? And, by definition, does anyone who falls outside of this description constitute a ‘bad’ or irresponsible breeder?

What Causes Fatal Dog Attacks & How Can We Prevent Death by Dogs?

As always, there is a lot of discussion about how we can introduce laws to tackle the problem of dangerous dogs. It’s a heated debate often grounded in media hype, misguided prejudices and emotion.

Rather than make kneejerk decisions on what we THINK we might know about serious and fatal dog attacks we should be prepared to focus on what we DO actually know. Agreed?

What we know should ALWAYS be the basis for what we do, rather than taking action based on what we THINK we know, particularly when it comes to legislation that has enormous consequences for decades to come.

Here’s why.

What we *think* we know is that there are certain ‘types’ of dog owners who have certain *types* of dogs that are the source of the UK’s dangerous dogs problem.

Hoodies? Status dogs? Weapon dogs? Street gangs? Drug dealers?

Well, that’s what some – ill informed, misguided types – *think* we know. Are they a problem? Absolutely. But we can categorise them a lot easier if we just accept this – a bad dog owner is a bad dog owner not because of who they are, what they look like or what they do for a living, but because of how they treat, train and use their dogs. Nothing else.

If a dog is trained to protect a drug dealer, he’s a guard dog. So if all dogs that have been encouraged to guard their owners/families are now to be categorised as ‘weapon’ dogs then we have a lot of weapon dogs in the UK.

Here’s an idea. If someone is a drug dealer, they’re a criminal. Get them off the streets. If someone is out terrorising members of the public or fellow criminals with a ‘weapon’ dog, here’s an idea – they’re ALREADY breaking the law. Get them off the streets.

So, what DO we know?

Take a look:

Cadey-Lee Deacon: Killed at her grandparent’s home by two dogs (Rottweilers) when the dog’s owner was not present. The death took place at the home where the dog’s lived. The family home.

Ellie Lawrenson: Killed at her grandmother’s home while under the supervision of her grandmother. The dog’s (Pit Bull) owner was not present at the time of the attack. The attack took place at the place where the dog lived. The family home.

Archie-Lee Hirst: Killed at his grandparent’s home while under the supervision of someone who was not the dog’s (Rottweiler) owner. The attack took place at the dog’s home, the family home, in the yard outside but the dog’s owner was not present at the time of the fatal attack.

Jaden Mack: Killed at his grandmother’s home whilst his grandmother (the dog’s owner) fell asleep, giving the dogs (Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier) unrestricted access to the child who himself had been left on a table. The fatal attack took place at the dog’s (family) home whilst, in the same building, the dog’s owner was not physically present at the time of the attack (as she was sleeping).

John Paul Massey was killed by his uncle’s dog (Pit Bull) whilst in the care of his grandmother. The attack took place at the family home, the place where the dog lived. The dog’s owner was not present at the time of the attack.

18-month old Zumer Ahmed girl lost her life to a dog (American Bulldog) that belonged to her Uncle. The dog’s owner was not present at the time of the attack which took place in the family home where the dog lived.

On 26th of March 2013, 14-year old Jade Anderson lost her life. She was found deceased following an attack by what is thought to be four dogs. The dogs owner was not present at the time of the attack.

There are more cases like this, not just in the UK.

Breeds involved:

Rottweiler (x2 in Cadey Lee Deacon’s case, 1 in Archie Lee Hirst)

Pit Bull – Ellie Lawrenson / John Paul Massey

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier – Jaden Mack

Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Bull Mastiff – Jade Anderson

American Bulldog

So, 7 fatal dog attacks and 7 remarkably similar circumstances – attacks ALL happened at the location where the dog lived (dog’s family home) and in ALL cases the owner of the dog was NOT present at the time of the attack taking place.

These are the facts.

It’s not ‘status dogs’ or ‘hoodies’ or any one particular breed of dog that is responsible for killing people. It’s a lack of awareness about how dogs behave, think and react in particular circumstances. Family dogs in family homes are responsible for these 7 fatal dog attacks.

I’ll briefly touch on something from personal experience.

I have two dogs. One of those dogs gets very stressed (and I use the word advisedly) when either myself or my wife leaves the house, even for a short time. If we both leave, she settles down quickly and understands the routine involved, but if ONE of us leaves, she gets agitated, runs from room to room, stares out of the windows, paws at the doors and gets herself in to a generally unhappy state. No amount of consoling or attempts to distract her will do the trick until the family is all back together as one unit. Interestingly, my other dog does not do this. She is calm and balanced and doesn’t seem to care when people come and go, whether it’s me or my wife.

All dogs have their own individual personalities.

Forget breed traits for a moment (and please don’t think for a second that I am ignoring the importance of genetics and breeding in what makes a particular dog tick) and think about this: regardless of who the dog’s parents and grandparents happen to be, their individual personality is shaped by a hugely diverse spectrum of other, environmental factors.

My Labrador and my Rottweiler have been given very, very (almost identical) upbringings – yet one of my dogs gets incredibly agitated when either myself or my wife leaves the home and the other doesn’t care. One of my dogs is particularly fond of meeting children, one is indifferent to them. One of my dogs welcomes people who visit my home wearing a uniform with a wagging tail, the other wants to send them packing.

If you were to ask me whether I thought it’d be OK for me (or my wife) to go out and leave my dogs in the care of someone who wasn’t their owner whilst children would be present, I’d say no. Conclusively no. No. No. Not happening. No.

I’m NOT being wise after the event. I’m not being a smart Alec.

Do I ‘trust’ my dogs?

No! Of course I don’t. They’re dogs. I especially don’t ‘trust’ my dogs if I’m not even there. Placing trust in one’s dog to not eat a sausage during a training exercise is fine. Trusting a dog to behave EXACTLY how you think it’ll behave when you’re not there, isn’t. There’s no real upside to such a bet. The upside, if there is one, is; nothing bad happens. The potential downside…doesn’t bear thinking about.

Think about this; have you ever been to someone’s home where there’s a dog and the dog’s owner is not there? The person who feeds the dog, trains the dog, can CONTROL the dog is away and the dog’s been left with someone who, whilst they may know the dog, doesn’t really have the same connection with it as the owner? I have. And it can be quite an interesting experience. A dog that spends a few hours ‘acting up’ or being naughty/aggressive/unruly/unpleasant to be around suddenly turns in to soppy, obedient puppy the minute they’re reunited with their master.

I’ll relate a true story about the most dangerous dog I’ve ever encountered.

My (now) wife worked at a quarantine kennels for a while. I worked at kennels in the next county as a dog trainer. We were both experienced working in kennels and, as anyone who’s worked in kennels will know, you get to see ALL elements of canine behaviour. Dogs are placed in a different setting and their owners removed from the environment and it’s then that you get to see which dogs are happy to be without their owners but perhaps get upset at being in a strange, funny smelling, noisy environment.

You get to see which dogs just pine and pine for their missing friends. You get to see which dogs have been well trained and, despite not being happy, will still comply with commands even from a stranger. You get to see which dogs are perfectly friendly but have clearly never been taught a basic command in their lives. You get to see which dogs absolutely LOVE being in such a dog-filled environment and don’t seem to give two hoots about their owners not being there. You get to see other people’s dogs behaving in all manners of ways.

In all of this, I can safely say the type of BREED happens to be utterly, utterly irrelevant in relation to how the dog reacts to this environment. No two Dobermans act the same, no two German Shepherds react the same way and you’ll find you’re just as likely to get a bite from a Labrador or a Border Collie as you are from a Rottweiler or a Bull breed.

The most dangerous dog I EVER encountered was, as it happens, a Border Collie.

My (now) wife called me to let me know that a dog had come in the quarantine kennels but he was actually a boarder rather than a quarantined dog.

She told me the dog was launching itself at kennel staff from his kennel and that nobody had been able to get close to entering his kennel. (Bear in mind, these are experienced kennel staff, used to working with many different dogs in a quarantine environment).

I was asked whether I could come over and take a look at the dog and see if I could get in to his kennel and calm him down and get him to be a bit happier and a little less bitey.

A Border Collie? I thought. How bad can it be?

Jumping at the chance to act the hero, I drove over and went to see the dog.

Firstly, this was the largest Border Collie I’ve ever seen. He was (intact male) easily bigger than the Rottweiler I currently own. He was big and he was very, very (VERY) hostile.

Just walking up to his kennel, he flung himself to the front, made himself big and gave a display that could not be mistaken for anything other than extreme territorial aggression.

He was in a confined space and he wanted everyone to know that, if you entered it, he’d be willing to bite. Not just nip and retreat, bite, bite and bite some more. To say he meant business would be an understatement.

I spent a lot of time trying all manner of approaches. I tried the friendly approach. The food through the kennel approach. The pick a ball up and see if that interested him approach. The submissive approach. The assertive approach. The downright hostile approach. I tried everything I knew – and I have worked with a number of rehabilitation case dogs who were very aggressive – but absolutely nothing worked. This was a dog that would not be subdued, at all.

I admitted I couldn’t really help in terms of getting close with the dog and advised that, for the duration of his short stay at the kennels, the staff would be best advised to use the built in, sliding kennel partition so as to ensure the dog was never allowed to come in to contact with a person.

I’ve worked with more than 2,000 dogs and would like to think I have a reasonably fair ability at calling a dog’s personality. I’ll confidently go on record and say that I believe this dog had the capacity to kill. He REALLY meant business.

But here’s where the story reaches its point.

When that dog’s owner came to collect him, he turned in to the soppiest, most playful, friendly dog you could ever wish to meet. He just melted. His tail wagged, his ears set back, his hostile “I’ll kill you if you so much as come within an inch of my kennel” personality just dissolved. As fast as that. The SECOND his owner came for him, he changed.

Was he a dangerous dog?

Well, I think I already called that. He WAS the most dangerous dog I ever met. Ever. UNTIL his owner turned up, whereupon he instantly became a different dog. His personality changed like the flick of a switch.

Did he have the capacity to attack and seriously injure (possibly kill) someone? I have absolutely NO doubt that he did. But again, there’s a caveat – he became a snarling, hostile dog when his owner was not there and he found himself confronted by people he didn’t know. WHEN his owner was there, he’d lie on his back to have his belly tickled by all. What a nice dog, you’d think. But a more accurate way of putting it would be; what a nice, friendly dog (when his owner’s around), what a completely unhinged, dangerous creature (when his owner wasn’t about).

We’ve lost 6 children in under 5 years to dog attack in the UK. We must all agree, that’s 6 too many.

In ALL cases, circumstance was far, far more pertinent than the ‘type’ of owner or even the ‘type’ of dog.

What is missing is education and awareness. A distinct lack of understanding as to the risks associated with unattended dogs, children and an owner not present.

Whilst we have constant debates about so-called ‘status dogs’ and trying to define a breed as being dangerous based entirely on what that breed happens to look like or who its parents were, we can – tragically – expect more of the same. More deaths, more ignorance – and that’s ignorance condoned by the Government.

As a nation, we must surely accept that we would ALL be better off if dog owners were more dog aware.

Not *some* owners. Not certain *types* of owners or owners of certain *types* of dogs, all dog owners. If all dog owners knew more about dogs and what makes dogs dogs, we’d benefit. All of us. Dog owner or not.

What we have here is a people problem, not a dog problem. People who are not fully aware of how dogs brains work.

Dogs CAN grow up with children and be an exceptionally positive influence on youngsters, but a simple lack of awareness about what circumstances can lead to tragedies as a result of dogs doing what dogs are capable of doing is what’s costing youngsters their very existence on this planet and it is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Our current law doesn’t work.

The question is, will the Government be intelligent enough to recognise that fiddling around the edges of a bad law will not provide the answers we need? That focussing on ‘types’ of owners or dogs won’t prevent deaths? Or that the problem of ‘killer’ dogs is by no means confined to the mean streets of the UK, but – in fact – is most likely to manifest itself in a family home with a family dog, being cared for by grandma whilst the dog owner happens to be somewhere else.

This isn’t what we *think* might be true. This is what we KNOW to be true.

It’s time for the Government to come clean on the DEFRA consultation and acknowledge what the RSPCA have confirmed; that they’ve already made their mind up regarding key aspects of dangerous dogs legislation.

No breed bans.
No BSL.
No BS!

Education is the answer.

The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

Dog Owners Live Longer, Are Happier and Healthier: Report

Academic research has revealed that dog owners are happier, healthier and likely to live longer. Whilst it has been established for some time that pet ownership makes people happier, it has now been shown that the benefits of owning a dog outstrip those of cat or any other animal.

A psychologist from Queen's University, Belfast, said dog owners tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, she says that regular 'walkies' may partly explain the difference.

Dr Deborah Wells reviewed dozens of earlier research papers which looked at the health benefits of pet ownership.

In some cases, the research even ventured as far to suggest the social support offered by an animal is greater than the support than another human could offer.

She confirmed that pet owners tended in general to be healthier than the average member of the population.

As well as lower blood and cholesterol levels, dog-owners suffered fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems than owners of other pets such as cats.

It has been believed for some time that dogs can assist people in recovery from serious illnesses such as heart attacks, and act as 'early warning' to detect an approaching epileptic seizure. This research adds further strength to the claim.

Dogs as Stress Relief

Dr Wells was not totally sure why, exactly, dogs are so beneficial to our health:

"It is possible that dogs can directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health.

"The ownership of a dog can also lead to increases in physical activity and facilitate the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health in a more indirect manner."

Summary: The Health Benefits of Owning a Dog

1. Children. Studies have shown that children who grow up with dogs have more advanced coping skills as adults. Understanding responsibilities, socialisation and caring for others are just three of the stronger reasons why children and dogs are a great combination.

2. Fitness. Owning a dog requires walking a dog. Sometimes we all need a motivation to get out and move on a cold, wet British morning. Dogs give us that motivation.

3. Allergies. Did you know people who have dogs in the household suffer less allergies? (Source)

4. Stress reduction. There's good reason so many dogs are now being taken in to hospitals and care homes. It's been shown that simply stroking a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce stress.

5. Surprising. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2011, followed 636 children and found the rate of eczema was lower among kids who lived with a family dog. In fact, even for kids sensitive to dog allergens, having a dog did not increase their risk of developing eczema.

All this before we even begin talking about the numerous dogs who have saved human lives, the mental stimulation they offer and a whole host of other incredible benefits offered by the animal who has truly earned the title of man's best friend.

Alice Cooper & The 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act

Some people never learn from the mistakes of history. Former Home Secretary Ken Baker is one of those people. His introduction of the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act and, along with it, breed specific legislation (outlawing/banning certain dogs by ‘type’) has been an unmitigated failure. A disaster on every level. Dog attacks have not reduced, the cost of attempting to implement his loony legislation has sky-rocketed, innocent dogs have died and, perhaps more importantly, there are people who weren’t even born when he rushed through the Act who are easily and joyfully getting any dog that is marketed to them as a ‘Pit’ a ‘Dogo’ or even a ‘Tosa’. Why? It’s obvious, really. When you try and ban something, you give it the biggest, baddest, most powerful marketing push possible….

pit-bull

Alice Cooper, founder of the Solid Rock foundation – a charity that helps disadvantaged youngsters

Alice Cooper, founder of the Solid Rock foundation – a charity that helps disadvantaged youngsters

The year is 1972.

Word from the United States is that original ‘shock-rock’ superstar Alice Cooper is making headlines for doing terrible, depraved things in a live stage show containing everything from animal sacrifice to full on necrophilia.

Of course, rumour and gossip fuel the fires. In reality, one single incident propelled Alice Cooper to notoriety. At a concert in Toronto someone in the crowd threw a live chicken on stage. Why anyone would bring a live chicken to a rock concert is anyone’s guess, but Cooper collected the bird and, being a boy from Detroit who’d never been on a farm in his life, threw it back – assuming “It had wings, I thought it would fly.”

Except, it didn’t quite fly as much as it plummeted back in to the crowd.

A sea of blood, guts, wings, feathers and media storm erupted.

“Alice Cooper kills chicken and drinks the blood.”

“Satanic Cooper sacrifices animals at live concert.”

“Evil Alice kills animals in frenzied sacrifice in front of baying mob”.

Well, you get the picture.

The rumours that surrounded Cooper and his stage show grew and grew – as rumours are prone to do. Before you knew it, Alice Cooper was the anti-Christ and the children of the world were not safe from the evil he spewed.

Nobody, it would seem, bothered to actually find out much more than that. Especially Mary Whitehouse the veteran ‘media standards and decency’ campaigner who busied herself by deciding on our behalf what we should and should not be allowed to see, think or do.

When it was announced that Alice Cooper would be bringing his shock-fest to the UK, Whitehouse went in to overdrive.

She lobbied MPs. Some of them supported her. In fact one MP, Leo Abse objected to Cooper’s show so much, he accused him “peddling the culture of a concentration camp.” Strong stuff.

The frenzy surrounding the most villainous man in music built and built.

Watching this all unfold were, basically, three groups;

1) The outraged.

2) The sensible.

3) The really, really, really, really, really EXCITED!

Whitehouse did not manage to ‘ban’ Cooper from bringing his show to the UK. Nor did the MPs, he was after all a singer, not a criminal.

Given the mass hysteria surrounding rock’s baddest of the bad, which of the following scenarios do you think played out upon his eventual landing on UK soil?

1) The public shunned the morally corrupt singer and sent him packing where he would later fade in to obscurity

2) Without doing a SINGLE stroke of his own PR, he sold Wembley Stadium out TWO nights in a row

???

Cooper’s sold out Wembley shows elevated his career to a new high. He is still going (very) strong to this day.

Had Mary Whitehouse actually met him before making her judgement, she’d discover that Alice Cooper is a devoted family man, born again Christian, keen golfer and one of the GREATEST showmen alive. The Alice Cooper show is a morality play. It’s a character showing, teaching, if you like, that if you do bad things, then bad things happen to you. Alice – the character – never ‘gets away’ with anything. It’s more Shakespeare than Satanism. In fact, I’ve found myself streaming out of Alice Cooper concerts (I’ve been to many. Many, many!) to sometimes overhear the dissefected youth of the day say “Well the music was great, but I thought it’d be all Satanic and stuff.” The greatest disappointment Mary and Leo would have found at an Alice Cooper gig is the sheer lack of the demonic, satanic elements and lack of corruption of the young, impressionable audience – the same young, impressionable audience who Mary and Leo DROVE to the show with their ill informed hype and tittle tattle.

Ken Baker has done the same job for the Pit Bull.

He’s made a dog breed that is owned and loved by millions the ‘poster child’ of canine badness. He’s made the breed the 1972 version of Alice Cooper.

Only there’s one big difference, Alice Cooper sent Mary Whitehouse a bouquet of flowers every year up until her death, so grateful was he for the career platform she built for him. I’m fairly sure the countless owners and dogs who’s lives have been wrecked by Baker’s 1991 act will not feel such affection for him.
Breed Specific Legislation has failed. By demonising a breed, any breed, you make it attractive to the sort of people who will do a fine job of perpetuating negative stereotypes. I wonder. Will the same disaffected youth who turned up at Alice Cooper concerts only to leave saying “Well, music was good but a bit disappointed at the lack of animal sacrifices” be overheard to say “Well, dog’s all nice and everything. Bit disappointed at the lack of psychotic viciousness though.” about their newly, illegally obtained ‘Pit Bull type’ dogs?

Are Vets Losing The Trust of Pet Owners?

Today (Oct, 2009) the BBC will broadcast the results of a K9 Media inspired vet fees survey. The results highlight the – sometimes massive – range of fees being charged for ’standard’ procedures. As much as £100 difference in the cost of a standard neutering procedure, in the SAME county! I believe the vet fees  hot potato is not going to go away any time soon. As pet insurers increasingly aim their fire at vets for performing ‘un-needed procedures’ on animals who are financially protected and more and more pet owners exchange information on the huge variance in medicine costs, we have to ask: will the vet fee issue lead to an erosion of trust? And if so, what can we do to stop it?In tonight’s BBC One ‘Inside Out’ I explained my fears that pet owners may begin to second guess their vet’s recommendations on treatment. This would be a disaster. Let me explain why and how I think it could happen.

http://i.imgur.com/dXkmdil.jpg

I take my dog to the vet for treatment on a lump that has suddenly appeared on her leg.

My vet gives me some medicine and cream and tells me to come back in two weeks.

I do. The lump is still there.

I see a different vet. This vet says they’ll have to operate as the position and feel of the lump gives concern for cancer.

Now, I obviously agree – without hesitation. I pay for the surgery. I pay for the cost of the biopsy on the removed lump. I pay for the after care. I’m £700 down.

My dog’s on the mend and it suddenly dawns on me; why was I recommened the cream in the first place if the position and feel ‘needed’ surgery?

If the above sounds like a far fetched scenario, think again – it happened. Not to me. But it happened.

Now, let’s take a look at price variance.

Why should/can one vet charge £4.00 for a Drontal worming tablet and another charge £5.90 for the EXACT same pill? Same dosage, same brand, same pill. Why?

Well, I can answer my own question, why – they can, because they can.

Vets are a small business. Fact. They are a for profit enterprise. And I am the LAST person on earth to advocate vets become anything other than innovative, entreprenurial businesses. Where my problem lies is in the fact that there is a groundswell of diquiet amongst a significant number of pet owners, upset, confused at how and why they got charged £300 for a neutering procedure whereas their neigbour got the EXACT same procedure done for £100 less with a vet down the road.

If we find ourselves becoming cynical or second guessing our vets, we’re in trouble. More to the point, our pets are in trouble. We need absolute complete trust in our vets. And I believe a way to achieve this is by a standard, national veterinary invoice.

The invoice would NOT standardise charges. It would NOT prevent vets from charging whatever they see fit for the services and products they offer. What it would do is legally compel ALL vets to declare exactly what their customers are paying for.

So if a neutering operation was charged at £300, the invoice would list:

– Cost of labour
– Cost of anesthetic
– Cost of dressing
– Cost of drugs

I would like to see vet drugs sold at a standard, recommended retail price – so if it’s a medicine that I can only get on prescription, I would like the price to be the same for that drug whether I use a vet in Nottingham or Nottinghill. A margin for the vet can still be built in to the retail price, if a vet wanted to retail the drugs above the national recommended retail price, then it should be declared on the invoice along the lines of (Sold at £0.35 above RRP).

I don’t mind paying it, but I want to know EXACTLY what I’m paying for. I want to have the power of comparison. I want to be happy that – should I want to – I can shop around for a vet who works at a lower hourly rate or a vet who operates a ‘RRP policy on all pet medicines’.

I don’t want restrictions, I just want transparency. I want them same level of disclosure from vets that I expect from the garage who services my car, because although I acknowledge the main dealer will charge me 35% more than the garage in my town for parts and labour, I am happy in the knowledge that I can at least do a side by side comparison of both providers and make an informed decision on who to use.

British vets are some of the best in the world. We should be very, very grateful to have such a depth of skilled professionals to care for our pets. All we want is more clarity. There are vets who fleece owners for every penny. They are, fortunately, the tiny minority (and let’s not overlook that) – well, fine! Let them. But let’s have a national vet invoice that means we can pick apart the precise elements of our bill and choose our vets accordingly.

Controversial: The 5 Most Dangerous Dogs

Undoubtedly it’s going to be controversial. Without fear of chicken counting, it will receive a lot of traffic. And without any element of doubt, it might cause ripples but it needs to be out there, for the public to know. We’ve decided to publicly name the five MOST dangerous dogs on the planet.

The Most Dangerous Dogs in the World

http://i.imgur.com/sAHxKdF.jpg

in reverse order:

5. Badly fed dog.

Badly fed dog is the animal who’s been fuelled up with a diet fit for an Olympic weight lifter, but who only ever gets to expend about 20% of the calories he takes in. He’s got lots of energy and his mismatched diet can manifest in bouts of sudden energetic rampaging. Badly fed dog would ask you to consider; how you would feel spending your day in an office when every inch of your body is throbbing and twitching as you crave the opportunity to actually use up some of those excess calories. Badly fed dog would be happier and safer if his diet reflected his lifestyle.

4. Never had any friends dog.

Otherwise known as ‘totally under socialised dog’.

He was a little naughty when he was a puppy, so his owner decided he’d be better off being kept away from all other forms of animal life. He now spends his days obsessing over what it would be like to chase other dogs around and, by George, one of these days he’s gonna actually do it!

Never had any friends dog is going to present his owner with a lifetime of problems, he has no social skills and has never had a chance to learn natural interaction through the teachings of his own kind. He’ll meet new dogs and will be about as socially adept as a 45-year old virgin at a Playboy mansion party. He’s going to blow it. Big time.

3. Shouty.

Shouty is the dog who has spent most of his life shouting at folks or being shouted at himself. He sees people on his street, he shouts at them. In turn, his owner shouts at him. Shouty presumes being shouted at is a recognition of his excellent work. In fact, hearing his owner shouting in response to his own shouting encourages his assumption that they’re just as upset, anxious, nervous, angry as HE is about the audacity of other people/dogs/pigeons to walk past his window. Shouty is relentlessly encouraged and endorsed in his shouty behaviour and, a bit like no friends dog, shouty spends his days imaging how good it will be when he FINALLY gets his chance to get face to face with the objects of his ire.

2. House proud.

House proud dog is SO touchy about people coming to his digs unannounced, he’ll happily maim you for your insolence in trying to visit his abode without obtaining the correct visitation paperwork.

House proud dog does a line in dishing out injuries to posties, meter readers and delivery people. Fortunately for house proud dog, his owners absolutely REFUSE to believe he is capable of violence, so leave him completely unattended to dish out his own brand of justice to anyone brash enough to consider entering his domain.

1. Spoilt dog.

“That’s mine and these are mine, those are mine, I’m entitled to that, I believe that I saw that first, I lay claim to those, I own all of these, I’m the rightful proprietor of this…”

Welcome to the world of spoilt dog. Quite simply, he believes everything he wants, he can have. Woe betide anyone to tell him differently. His timid owners have never had the heart to let him know that in the human world, simply showing your teeth and growling doesn’t constitute a legal contract on the ownership of goods. They let him off and, worse, they let him keep his spoils, which he’ll gather up and place in his own corner of the world.

Sadly, spoilt dog is, one day, going to meet someone who is unaware that he has previously laid claim to every possession on earth. Unfortunately, unlike spoilt dog’s owners, this person is going to have to find out the hard way just how deep spoilt dog’s sense of entitlement runs. Really hard luck if it happens to be a youngster, blissfully ignorant to the fact that the shiny ball on the floor is spoilt dog’s most prized possession (at that VERY moment). A few stitches and a spell in hospital ought to serve as a permanent reminder though.

[What? You didn’t think there was a such a thing as a list of ‘dangerous dog breeds’ did you? Pffft.]

END BSL NOW!

This article was originally written and published by Ryan O’Meara in June 2010.

Dog Attacks & Media Hype

I thought, for no reason in particular, that today might be a good day to re-publish the following article (written in 2008) in relation to media reporting of dog attacks.

Written by Ryan O’Meara

Last week I made a short appeal to the media to show a little more ‘care’ when ‘reporting’ on dog attacks.

The appeal was in relation not just to the tragic death of pensioner Jim Rehill who died on January 28th.

It was motivated by the sneaking suspicion that it was very possible, maybe even probable, that Mr Rehill was not – as was almost universally reported at the time – ‘killed in a savage attack by his own dog’ (a Rottweiler).

Some of the headlines from January 28th would leave you in no doubt as to how Mr Rehill died:

Grandfather Killed by rottweiler On walk

Rottweiler ‘Chews Master’s Face Off’

Owner killed by rottweiller

Man mauled to death by his own Rottweiler

Dog kills owner in horror attack

Dog brutally mauls owner in London

Rottweiler attacks owner on daily walk

Yesterday (a little over a week after Mr Rehill’s death) the small, not entirely insignificant matter of coroner’s report revealed that Mr Rehill’s death has been recorded as natural causes. No inquest necessary. It is confirmation of what was stated by some eye witnesses who saw the incident take place.

In between telling reporters that “dogs like rottweilers should not be allowed out in public”, one witness, Aziz Rahman, let slip that “(the) dog was over him, licking and biting him”.

Yes, I highlighted the word licking. Why? Because I’ve seen dog attacks, I’ve seen dogs fight, I’ve seen lots of things dogs do when they are being ’savage’. Licking is quite an unusual thing for them to be doing in the middle of a frenzied ‘horror attack’. Unusual, not impossible though. Anyway, let us move on.

Another witness saw what happened. He was a little clearer as to what he believed he’d observed.

Lee Hanson who works at a nearby taxi firm insisted the dog was trying to help the man.
Mr Hanson said: “The man was face down and the dog was trying to wake him up. “The dog wasn’t attacking him at all… it was his own dog. It was banging his head, trying to wake him up.”

Another comment recorded in the aftermath of the death:

A neighbour of the dead man, Bhupendra Karia, 30, said: “He loved that dog. He’d had him for at least 10 years, since he was a puppy and he never had any problems with it being aggressive.

You may or may not be surprised to know who’s accout of what happened got the most press coverage. Have a guess. Was it….

Mr Rahman’s observation that the victim was: “like a piece of meat” going on to add “My wife could not believe it. She got frightened. Now she’s thinking it’s fairly scary to go to the local shops on her own”

or, for balance, do you think Mr Hanson’s pretty clear cut: “the dog was not attacking him” comment got equal column inches?

In case you’re still wondering, Mr Hanson was quoted in the Sun’s ‘report’. Here’s what they published from him:

Cab firm boss Lee Hanson, 41, said: “I saw a man face down with this dog standing over him.

It was grabbing his neck and lifting his head then banging it down really hard.”

It reads a little differently, don’t you think, when the words “the dog was not attacking him” are completely dropped from the article and the words slammed, dragged and smashed are highlighted in their coverage?

They (the Sun), it goes without saying, used an image of a wild eyed, frightening looking Rottweiler in full aggression mode to highlight the horror of the story. Not Mr Rehill’s dog you understand. No, just a generic Rottweiler, mouth agape, snarling and ready to eat you, your children and your children’s children.

The Sun is not alone in its reporting of this incident.

A rottweiler chewed off its owner’s fingers and nose as it savaged him to death in the street, shocked eye witnesses said today.

The powerful beast repeatedly battered the pensioner’s skull against the pavement and ripped and chewed at his face, it was claimed.

Reports Big News Day

The Press Association claimed:

A pensioner was “dragged like a doll” through the street in a fatal attack by his dog.

Witnessed looked on in horror as railway engineer James Rehill, 78, was savaged by his rottweiler in Newham, east London.

Residents armed with baseball bats desperately tried to free Mr Rehill as the dog inflicted horrific injuries to his face and head. It was only when police officers arrived and discharged six fire extinguishers that the dog was distracted and released its owner.

And the most common line taking by the media is typified by the Mirror’s assertion that:

Grandad James Rehill was mauled to death when his pet Rottweiler suddenly turned on him during their morning walk.

We (K9 Magazine) elected not to report on this particular incident at the time. Not, you must understand, because we don’t report on dog attacks – no, in fact we have an entire website dedicated to rounding up coverage of dog attacks – and not because we are actively involved in trying to highlight the incredibly misguided, weak, poor thought out and unsuccessful dog legislation Britain is saddled with (and, incidentally, is trying to saddle us with more of) – no, our decision not to report on this incident until the post mortem was conducted was based on what we, and a number of other people who have a shred of understanding about dogs, felt were some loose ends in this sorry story.

Loose ends like, oh I don’t know, Mr Hanson’s protestation that “the dog was not attacking him” – even the excitable Mr Rahman gave us cause for concern in between declaring his opposition to Rottweilers being allowed out in public when he revealed the dog was “licking his face”. And finally, and this is the biggest clue of all, this is the one that really kinda tipped the scale in favour of us deciding to wait for the facts to come out before jumping the gun, was our understanding that DOGS WHO’VE LIVED WITH THEIR OWNER FOR 10 YEARS SINCE BEING A PUPPY AND HAVE NEVER SHOWN ANY SIGNS OF EVER BEING AGGRESSIVE IN THE ENTIRE LIVES DO NOT SUDDENLY DECIDE TO KILL THEIR OWNERS WHEN OUT ON THEIR DAILY WALKS!!! (emphasis added, tabloid style)

So today, when the facts have been revealed that Mr Rehill was not killed by his dog. When the facts tend to support witness reports that claimed the dog was merely panicking in desperation at not knowing what to do as its owner lay unconscious on the floor. When the facts tend to support our own theory that it was very possible a dog who was standing over its stricken master whilst a crowd gathered with ‘baseball bats’ and fire extinguishers and may have appeared to have been guilty of a stereotypical ‘devil dog savaging’ could have misread the situation. When the facts reveal that this dog was shot and killed by Police at the scene for doing something that many, many dogs of many, many different breeds would have done in the same situation, would it have been too much to expect those who falsely and deliberately misreported this human death would have had the grace to alert their readers to their error?

You know, the papers who stated quite categorically that Mr Rehill was ’savaged to death by his dog’, would it be too pressing to expect them to issue just a little correction when the coroners report says ’stroke’ and ‘natural causes’?

Today, February 7th, it would appear Mr Rehill’s actually cause of death is being reported in just one place. Even the good old bastion of all that is decent, fair and accurate the BBC have not (at the time of this being published) issued a correction to their own headline (still live on their website) which claimed: “Dog kills owner in horror attack“.

The day after the attack, I did a round of interviews for various radio stations (mp3) who were demanding to know what should be done about these dog attack horrors. I did, as sensitively as I felt I could, raise the point that it was highly unlikely that Mr Rehill’s dog ‘just decided to kill him’ despite the overtones that that is exactly what happened.

So let us wait. Let us wait and watch and see if Mr Rehill’s family get a public apology from the media who wrongly reported and deliberately sensationalised his tragic death. That might happen, I have my doubts.

What I am all the more certain of though is that it would be far too much to expect that the Rottweiler – as a breed or even Mr Rehill’s late friend – will be offered any form of clarification. Let’s face it, that’s not going to happen. The Rottweiler is Britain’s current ‘devil dog’ and whilst the media might hate the breed, they certainly don’t hate it when they get a chance to hang, draw and quarter them at every turn.

So please, if nothing else, let this incident serve notice as categorical PROOF that what many dog owners have known for a long, long time is 100% true – some of our media will happily demonise an entire dog breed and whip up a public frenzy about ‘devil dogs’ whether they know ANY of the damn facts or not. The truth, as they say, will never get in the way of a ‘good’ story. It would seem, even if a man has lost his life.

If you love dogs and have a disposition that errs toward wanting to be told the truth, don’t let them get away with it. Write to them, complain to them and just bin them all together. As I said last week, they are in no small way to blame when misguided, gullible people decide to turf their dogs out into the street on the back of nothing more than lies, damn lies and predictable devil dog hype.

Author Details
Ryan O’Meara is editor-in-chief of K9 Magazine, the lifestyle magazine for dog lovers. He lives in the East Midlands with his own two dogs, Mia and Chloe.