Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another child killed by dogs

This is a 3 1/2 month old baby named Jaden Mack, from a village in Wales. He is now dead, killed a Staffordshire bull terrier and a Jack Russell at his grandmother's house. She was taking care of him while his parents were briefly away.

According to the BBC report on the child's death, one villager said the dogs were playful and "never seemed to be vicious". You've heard this one before, right? "Oh, he was such a sweet dog, he wouldn't hurt anyone." Until he does, that is.

I first became aware of this problem back in the 1980s, when I was researching a story for Los Angeles Magazine called "The Dog Wars." The story was really about the conflicts over what public spaces, such as parks, should be open to dogs and which not, plus neighbor conflicts over barking dogs. But when I began looking at newspaper clippings about dogs, I was absolutely shocked to find out that thousands of children in the United States and other countries are mauled and killed by dogs every year.

In the UK, after a spate of such deaths in the early 1990s, a dangerous dogs law was passed which is still in effect. The problem is that it is limited to just a handful of breeds, and yet thousands of children continue to be killed by dogs not on the list. A Staffordshire bull terrier? Not on the list, at least not technically, but everyone knows that breed can kill. So can Dobermans, German Shepherds, and a whole host of others.

This is really an example of society caring more about lives of animals than of children, otherwise the laws in the UK, the United States, and other countries would be much tougher. The list should be expanded; the dangerous dogs confiscated and killed; and their breeding outlawed. Period.

I realize this isn't going to happen soon. But until it does, many more babies like Jaden Mack are going to die. Does anybody really care, other than their parents?

Oh, Fluffy, cute dog, good dog, ooh Fluffy such a sweet dog! Makes me want to vomit.

Campus protests of Israel's military actions in Gaza:

An extract from this roundup:

Campus protests of Israel's military actions in Gaza, are growing — including in the United States. Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Rochester is claiming victory in the first "occupation" of a building at an American campus over the issue (although university officials say that the students signed up for permission to protest in a building Friday until midnight and so were there with authorization). The university and the SDS also have different versions of what both sides agreed to in order to end the protest late Friday. The SDS started its protest demanding that the university sell endowment holdings in companies that produce weapons or otherwise "profit from war"; that the university organize a day of fund raising for Gaza; that the university provide "necessary academic aid" such as computers and books to university programs in Gaza; and that a minimum of five scholarships be set up for Palestinian students. A blog by an SDS member involved in the protest says that Rochester committed to donate surplus goods to students in Gaza, to help create a Palestinian fund drive, to look for ways to provide scholarships to students from Gaza, and to "help organize a forum to expose or make transparent the investments of the university towards Israel." University officials said that they had agreed to the following: helping the SDS find ways to donate goods to students in Gaza, helping the SDS find ways to raise money for Gaza, working to identify schools in Gaza where students might apply to attend the university, and organizing a forum to explain to students how the university makes its investments. Rochester officials stressed that they would help any student group trying to provide assistance for groups that could benefit, and that there are currently scholarships for foreign students available, but that the university doesn't receive many applications from Palestinians. At the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland, 40 students occupying a building agreed to leave, and claimed that the university had agreed to honor a boycott of Israel by canceling a contract with an Israeli water company. A university statement said that it was indeed canceling the contract, but that Strathclyde had already committed to stopping the purchase of bottled water on a large scale (for sustainability reasons) and that this made it appropriate to end the relationship with the Israeli company. The university also pledged to set up some scholarships for Palestinian students.


Richard Parker said...

Sorry, but your headline article on this blog is sheer emotionalism and sentimentality, worthy of nothing better than the News of the World.

It doesn't faze me as much that one child in America gets savaged by one of America's favourite pets as that 400 children get massacred in Gaza using America's favourite ammunition.

Michael Balter said...

It doesn't faze me as much that 400 children got massacred in Gaza as that 6 million Jews died in the gas chambers.

Same stupid argument, Richard. It's always possible to dismiss one outrage by citing a bigger one.

Anonymous said...

I concur, Michael. And this is a serious problem. It's a problem here in Canada, too. You read stories regularly here about children who get mauled by crazy dogs. And the children who get killed (like poor Jaden) are only part of the tragedy. There are also countless kids who are disfigured for life. I don't agree with Richard that this is "worthy of nothing better than the News of the World." It's a grim reality that should be confronted head on.

Anonymous said...

And yet, the problem isn't dog breeds so much as it is people leaving their children unsupervised with equally unsupervised dogs. A sample of dogs that have killed in the past year: black labs, including a puppy; huskies, in several cases; jack russell terriers; etc. But the most often cited dog is "mixed breed." In fact, a good journalist would do a little research and discover the numbers of people killed in the US by dogs hasn't changed much over the years and the breeds involved tend to correspond with trends in popularity.

The only real solution is enforcement of existing laws enforcing owner responsibility.

Milen said...

A common solution is enforcement of existing laws enforcing owner responsibility.