As I settled down to watch TV on Monday I was not sure what to expect from the Channel 5 programme ‘Dangerous Dog Owners and Proud’. Being an owner of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier myself and having to deal with the prejudices that others have over her breed, I was interested to see how these dogs and owners would be portrayed.
Reality TV at a new low?
It was silly of me to think that a “Reality TV Show” in this day and age would choose to use this opportunity to show how dogs deemed as dangerous due to their breed or appearance, can actually be well trained and socialised animals. Instead we were presented with an extremely small population of this country who were proud to own a dangerous dog and in most cases were deliberately training their dogs to be dangerous!!
A number of dogs on the programme were Pit Bull Terriers, which are one of four banned breeds under UK legislation; however there were also Staffordshire Bull Terriers whose owners were attempting to train them to attack on command. It gave me great pleasure to see the owner failing to make her new puppy aggressive, if you know the breed well you will know that they are particularly social with people and if socialised correctly at a young age will also be friendly with other animals!
It was a scary sight given that these individuals saw themselves and were being described as “gifted dog trainers”. In reality a dog is a dog and however well trained, has the capacity to act out of character or attack. We have all heard numerous stories of children and adults losing their lives from dog attacks, according to the Office of National Statistics, 23 deaths following dog attacks were registered in England and Wales from 2006 to 2012 – only 2 of these reported deaths involved illegal dogs. I think it was wholly inappropriate give these people a stage to show the wrong that they are doing to these animals.
I would question why Channel 5 felt the need to spend budget on filming and broadcasting this show. Yes, there are a number of abhorrent dog owners in this country who will use their animals as status symbols and train them to act dangerously should they so direct them to. However, this only adds fuel to the fire in portraying certain breeds as having dangerous reputations. It will only slow down the work done by certain charities to educate the wider public of those breeds tarnished with a bad reputation. For example, the “Staffies. They’re softer than you think” campaign by Battersea Dogs & Cats home. It is these initiatives that should be given more air time and celebrated, rather than a bunch of scared people thinking they have the right to train their dog to protect them in a way that is socially unacceptable.
How I long for the day where I will be able to walk down the street with my staffie and not have people cross the road or shoot me an evil look. Some of us dog owners out here are trying our hardest to raise dogs who are socially acceptable and not aggressive, however this programme had only the potential to dampen my spirits that there will always be small minded people out there training and breeding dangerous dogs.