It's the ultimate example of how human behavior led to a child being attacked.
According to this article in the UK newspaper Daily Mail, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier is not being put to sleep after attacking a 10-year-old boy. Why? Because the dog had been given beer and may have been drunk.
The owner had taken his dog, Diesel, for a walk and not taken water with him. During that walk, Diesel was bitten by another dog (whose breed was not mentioned - media seem to find this irrelevant unless it's a so-called bully breed). Diesel was thirsty and panting when they returned home, where the owner's friend gave Diesel some Stella Artois to quench his thirst. A lager beer, rather than water. After giving the hot, thirsty, and presumably tense dog alcohol, a child was attacked when he reached over the yard's fence and tried to pet the dog.
The child, sadly, is now afraid of dogs. He has nightmares about the attack, according to his court statement, and missed school due to injuries. He even had to have a skin graft to treat the injury on his face.
The court ruled that the owner needed to keep the dog under control but that the dog would not be put down - this time. If Diesel attacks again, he will be put down.
In this case, the outcome is a rare example of common sense reigning over fear. The dog has no prior history of aggression. His owner has taken Diesel to a canine psychologist, and the court recognized the animal may have been intoxicated and not acting the way he normally would. The owner is being proactive and committing to doing whatever necessary to keep his dog, and the court is giving the animal the benefit of that. (I hope that includes keeping the dog away from the idiot who gave him beer.)
The court is not bending to fear. It is not punishing the dog for the role that human behavior had in this incident.
There's a saying used by people who oppose breed-specific legislation: Ban the deed, not the breed. It's a common sense approach that puts the emphasis on behavior, not breed, as dogs of any genetic heritage have the potential to be dangerous just like any has the potential to be loving and kind. So much of what determines which way the pendulum swings is how the dog is raised - how he is treated, socialized, and trained by his owners - that it seems ignorant at best, dangerous at worst, to ignore the role of human behavior in dog attacks. This story is a perfect example of how it wasn't the dog's breed but human behavior that played a significant role in the attack, and the court recognized that.
This case is a huge stride in the right direction. I applaud the owner for taking such a strong role in advocating for his dog and doing whatever necessary to prevent future attacks, such as taking his dog to a professional immediately. That's a responsible owner. Not all dogs have that fortune, and oftentimes irresponsible owners are the real source of canine bites.
I applaud the officers in the hearing, too, for taking into account all the complexities of this case when deciding the dog's fate. A dog with no aggressive history was bitten by another dog during his walk, then given alcohol by an irresponsible person other than the owner, potentially causing intoxication when the dog was already not in his normal state of mind. Too often, a dog is put down without even examining the dog, but in this case they looked at all the facts and gave the dog another chance. The court could have said that because of his breed and one bite he should die, but they didn't.
Diesel lives because common sense prevailed.
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Photo credit: Steven Lilley