Poll: Can children and dogs live safely under the same roof?

Undated Handout Photo of a dog with mother and her baby. Undated Handout Photo of a dog with mother and her baby.

Thursday, February 20, 2014
6:30 AM

The last seven days has brought with it the terrible news of the deaths of two children who were mauled and killed by the family pet.

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The shocking tragedies would have sent a shudder down the spine of any parent with a small child and no doubt they would have asked themselves when they were pregnant and expecting - what do we do with our dog?

But do these horrific incidents provide evidence parents should consider whether the family dog and baby can live together under the same roof - or are they simply unavoidable one-off tragedies?

Hollie Stevens, 29, of Cawston, in north Norfolk, has owned a dog since her daughter Liliana, now eight, was nine months old.

Miss Stevens and her boyfriend Jeff Allen own three lurchers and a rottweiler and plan on getting a terrier.

Library picture of Niki Senior giving psychic, spiritual and Reiki healing to animals in Norfolk. Molly the dog is a willing volunteer.Library picture of Niki Senior giving psychic, spiritual and Reiki healing to animals in Norfolk. Molly the dog is a willing volunteer.

She said: “I will never get rid of my dogs just because I have children. Me and my boyfriend have four dogs between us and have already discussed how we will manage them if we have a baby.

“Re-homing isn’t an option, it won’t happen, the dogs are here to stay.”

In 2010, Miss Stevens became homeless and stayed in a hostel for five months. Even then she did not part with her pets.

“I was prepared to sleep in my car with them on my mum’s driveway if I had to - people give up too easily.

“When Liliana was newborn my dad went away for a week and I had his lurcher - Lil was two weeks old. I put her in a baby carrier and away we went on walks in the fresh air.

“It was exactly what I needed to get me out of the house.”

The issue has come to the fore after news this week in Wales, of the death of Eliza-Mae Mullance after being attacked by the family’s Alaskan malamute on Tuesday. She was just six days old.

This came barely a week after 11-month-old Ava-Jayne Corless, of Blackburn, was killed by a pit bull terrier as she slept last Monday.

Animal healer, Niki Senior, who lives near Dereham, grew-up around dogs from the age of one after her parents imported the first rottweilers into the UK in 1969.

She has worked with animals for more than 17 years and explained that dogs need an adequate amount of exercise and good food for a well-balanced life.

She said: “How people lead lives now is different to when I was a child - they have busier lifestyles now. When I was growing up we had the time and the land to walk our dogs for miles.

“Some people don’t take into consideration the time needed for the breed of dog they want.”

Ms Senior, of Animal Magic, School of Animal Healing, explained that in the last few years people have jumped on the “designer dog bandwagon” of cross breeding, leading to a rise in families with dogs. And although not against having both children and dogs together she was clear on one thing - “you cannot trust a dog 100pc alone with children”.

“Children move quickly and in a very different way to adults. For dogs, in the majority of cases, bigger ones pick on the runt of the family - that’s how dogs integrate.

“If there is a weaker member of that pack - such as in a litter of dogs - they pick on the smaller one. They do not see it as being part of the pack and it will be the same as how some dogs see children.”

She advised parents who were planning on introducing a dog into the family to do their research first.

She said: “If it’s a rescue dog find out its background, has it been around children before? Or if you are getting a new dog try to choose a younger dog as you may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks.”

• Dr Isla Fishburn and Ms Senior are holding a two day seminar in understanding and communicating with your dog in August. For more information visit www.ukanimalhealer.co.uk.

• What do you think - can children and dogs live in Harmony? Write to the Letter’s Editor at Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

17 comments

  • We owned a lovely German Shepherd dog, when our first son born I always let the dog in with me when I was feeding him, he never felt jealous as we included him in everything. The dog was protective of our son and when I took my son to see my parents the dog came too. We took him with us on picnics etc ., the dog lived until he was 15 years old. He was part of our family always.

    Report this comment

    Kathy Adams

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • It’s all about choosing the breed …. Staffordshire Bull Terrier etc., you have a problem – Labrador, you don’t! And don’t let the owners of Staffordshire Bull Terriers and the like that it’s all down to the owners, it isn’t!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk John

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • As a country we have become very silly about dogs and animals in general. I am getting on a bit and have grown up around big and small dogs, mostly working but those dogs never lived inside the house-they had their own accommodation and few people I knew in my younger days kept the foreign breeds known to have been bred for guarding and fighting. As a child I knew someone badly chewed up by a show chow and I myself have been bitten by a non family working dog-but as children we were always kept away from the ratting terriers, only the gundog breeds being generally trusted with the kids. Some time ago there was a vitriolic exchange on a local public forum about dogs on leads on our beaches, where it became clear that a number of people put their dogs before the safety of children and were positively anti child. Those who have seen a lurcher shake a hare or a Jack Russell get in a hunting frenzy would not dream of having a dog in the house with a baby or young chlildren-even older family pets can become jealous. As for keeping huskies, akitas mastiffs and a number of other breeds as domestic pets-well that should have been subject to special licence years ago. Now all the oooh my doggie is lovely lot will crawl out of the woodwork Yes your doggy is lovely but he is not that far from a wolf-and some breeds are bred to be nastier.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Larson.E. Whipsnide: You really know EVERYONE has proved to be fake under scientific conditions? - Oh MY - I admire your extreme ability to know such a fact and all concerned. Being a Psychologist there are subject areas that cannot be proven under scientific experimentation. Science and belief are 2 separate entities. You are a non believer, that's fine. I can live with that ;-)

    Report this comment

    UK Animal Healer

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Domestic dogs should be banned in this country the parks are full of dog mess and dogs kill many innocent people each year

    Report this comment

    blister

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • "..... Niki Senior giving psychic, spiritual and Reiki healing to animals....." . Roll up! Roll up! All the fun of the fair........

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • I think you need an education my friend. I'll leave you to work on closing your mouth and opening your mind. Just give me a shout if I can be of assistance.

    Report this comment

    UK Animal Healer

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Certainly not an Alaskan Malamute, many are semmi wild and undomesticated, they should never have been sold as pets.

    Report this comment

    Heading for Squalor

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Hope these stories do not lead to lots of dogs being dumped now. Of course dogs can live with babies and children, its all about common sense, not leaving them alone together, giving the dog lots of attention when a new born baby arrives so it does not feel pushed out, and, yes, taking them for long walks etc. as they should have anyway. No dog can ever be fully trusted with anyone, it can just take a little something and the dog can turn, they are animals afterall!

    Report this comment

    Lynda

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Agree with other comments- there is a lot of stupidity around dogs. Each breed was bred to have certain characteristics- ratting retrieving hunting guarding etc and these characteristics do not disappear overnight to fit in with what 'looks cute' or is 'fashionable'. Sadly many owners have no idea how to look after a dog properly and put their own needs before that of the animal then whinge when the animal misbehaves. Dogs need rules training boundaries- they do not have an innate knowledge of right and wrong as they are not human - they are dogs and do what dogs do which is often violentbloody and aggressive. If you are not prepared to exercise and train your dog, keep it on a lead in public, muzzle it if necessary etc then don't have one. I adore dogs of all shapes and sizes but, as I am at work all day, I would not be able to meet its needs. I feel so sad for all the poor, miserable, frustrated dogs locked in flats all day. Rant over!

    Report this comment

    Fluffy Cat

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • The comments from Daisy and Lynda make more sense than those in the article. Many dog owners are responsible and choose wisely but there does seem to be people who take on dog ownership without thinking about how they will have to adapt their lives to adjust. I suppose same could be said about being parents but I think it is harder to avoid the issue then. I've noticed that a lot of alleged fox attacks are in households with a family dog am I alone in thinking there could be a cover up?

    Report this comment

    JohnnyH

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Total rubbish my Staffordshire bull terrier is now 12 years old I've had him since he was 6 weeks old and my children are 10, 7, 5 and 3 I also now have a 8 month dogue de bordeaux that I got at 12 weeks old - common sense and rules in place we all live happily together including my cats.

    Report this comment

    Tuckswood girl

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • "....Just give me a shout if I can be of assistance...." . I will use my powers of ESP to send a message via thought transference.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Friday, February 21, 2014

  • ".... You really know EVERYONE has proved to be fake under scientific conditions?..." That's right , everyone who claimed paranormal powers and agreed to have those powers tested under scientific conditions has been found so far to have no such talents at all. Science and belief are indeed two separate things.....you and the mugs who pay you can believe anything they want. Now get back to your spoon bending or whatever mumbo jumbo you practice.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Larson.E Whipsnade. You have slightly veered off topic with your comment. However I will explain abut how I work. It's not about whether you are convinced of my healing ability or not that matters. I too was like you; a non-believer in healing. I come from a scientific background and was a total sceptic, especially as I hold a Ph.D in psychology, oh and a BSc (Hons) too. I suffered a stroke whilst studying at uni in my 20's & it was only then that I discovered the power of complementary medicine - I am living proof that healing has such a profound effect on the body as are 100's of the clients I have treated in 17 years. I LOVE sceptics like yourself, as they are my best form of advertising, especially when they see the great benefits that healing has given to their animals. Consequently, because of my success, I have an 11 week waiting list for appointments. Thankfully people who genuinely love their animals are open-minded enough to know that there's something that works in addition to orthodox medicine.

    Report this comment

    UK Animal Healer

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • UK Animal Healer.....everyone who has claimed psychic powers , paranormal powers , predictive powers , the power to see into the future , the power to speak to the dead , etc etc has been found when tested under scientific conditions to have no such powers at all and to be either a fraudster or simply deluded . There is one born every minute.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

  • Not having a dog because you've got young children? What an absolutely preposterous notion. I'm not what you would call a "dog person", but even I know that dogs are not the danger here, irresponsible owners and parents are. You don't leave a baby alone with ANY animal.

    Report this comment

    Squall

    Thursday, February 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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