TWO events yesterday serve to underline the fact that the issue of pet ownership is still something that our society has to get to grips with.
One was a court case in which a man was jailed for slicing of a puppy’s ear.
The other was a debate in the House of Lords where plans to give councils new powers to target the owners of dangerous dogs were discussed.
The two events might seem unrelated but are surely linked by one inescapable fact, that responsible dog ownership is key to having healthy, happy and well-behaved pets in our community.
No-one, dog owner or otherwise, will have felt anything less than revulsion at seeing pictures of a three-week-old puppy with its ear sliced off.
The man responsible, a 27-year-old, said to have taken scissors or a knife to the puppy after a tiff with his girlfriend, refused to tell police or the court what had happened. But magistrates were in no doubt as to what in their view he had done and found him guilty of animal cruelty.
While this is, of course, the extreme end of irresponsible dog ownership, how many times have we seen other pets either maltreated or blamed for behaviour that may well in part be down to how they themselves have been treated.
Local vet Martin Paterson is surely right when he says that any change in legislation to control dogs deemed to be dangerous should concentrate on individual cases. In effect, that what matters is responsible dog ownership.
Yes there are certain breeds that are statistically known to have more aggressive individuals among them, but dog owners have much to contribute to how that manifests itself in a particular animal’s behaviour. Owning a pet is a privilege and a responsibility.
There may well be individual dogs that can cause problems but in the majority of cases animals that are well cared for and well trained are an asset to people’s lives. And no pet deserves to be treated like the one that we have featured today.
That puppy is now with new owners and, thankfully, is recovering.