As someone “in dogs” I pay close attention to dogs in the news. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of happy news about dogs unless it’s February and the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is on.
Whenever I hear about a family pet that has mauled (in this case fatally) a baby in the home, like the rest of the world, I ask “why?” Why wasn’t anyone more careful about a dog in the home with a baby?
Today’s tragedy involves a Grandma in Brooklyn, NY, babysitting an 8 month old boy, Andrew Stein, and, a three-year-old male neutered Doberman Pinscher named Mackabee.
Reports say that the baby had touched the dog’s paw. The Grandma wasn’t in the room.
Here’s the fatal mistake: leaving any baby (or child) unattended in a room with the family pet (and I don’t care if the pet is a cat or dog, or if the dog is a Dachshund or a Doberman).
That poor Grandma. I’m sure she had no idea this was a possibility. My heart goes out to the parents as well. But jeepers, what were they thinking and did they instruct Grandma to be careful and not leave the baby and dog alone together? Prehaps they did. Perhaps Grandma on a busy day with baby crying and rushing to get the bottle ready, just didn’t think. Grandma wasn’t just baby-sitting, she was also dog-sitting. Poor Grandma.
I’ll provide a link to a Newsday article on the incident, for more details, because I don’t have the heart or stomach to repeat the awful details here: Newsday.com
I love dogs. I live for dogs. I’ve worked with dogs most of my adult life. I don’t trust dogs 100%. I don’t trust dogs alone with a baby or child. I don’t trust dogs off leash. I respect dogs and their nature and that’s why I believe we must always be in control and managing their behavior and reactions. Dogs are not fur people–they’re animals–and we really should respect their animal instincts more than we do.
I do not fall into the camp of dog people who trust pet dogs 100% in every situation. I don’t buy into what seems to be the politically correct theory that even aggressive dogs can be rehabilitated. I just don’t believe that some dogs can be trusted to have certain instincts entirely and reliably extinguished. Can they be managed? Definitely, in the right circumstances, with dilligence and a great deal of work and with the humans being in control and managing them every living moment of the dog’s new rehabilitated life.
This particular dog, however, was brought into the home as a puppy and is said to never have shown any aggression, so, in this instance, it appears we’re looking at a dog reacting on instinct (or over-reacting), and, sadly, a dog big enough and strong enough to crush a baby’s skull in an instant.
My felling is, if a breed has some basic instincts in its genes, such as prey instincts or protection-guarding, and if a family wants such a dog in their home, dammit, the family had better know what they’ve got and how to manage the dog and its instincts and reactions. We just can’t expect dogs to be 100% reliable 100% of the time.
As far as the outcome for this dog, this part of the Newsday article gets my back up:
“The health department is evaluating the dog and the circumstances surrounding the incident and will make a recommendation about the animal’s future that best predicts the public’s safety,” a department statement said.If the department determines the dog is dangerous, and the owner agrees, the animal will be euthanized. If the owner doesn’t agree, a law judge could decide the dog’s fate after a hearing. Other options include retraining, relocating the dog, or having the dog wear a muzzle, the department said.
Give me a break. The dog has killed a baby. Is “retraining and relocating the dog or having him wear a muzzle” really an appropriate outcome?
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