Reader letter: We must face facts – all dogs have the potential to be a danger

Dexter Neal, three, who died after a dog attack in Halstead.

Dexter Neal, three, who died after a dog attack in Halstead. - Credit: Archant

There he sits smiling on his little vehicle, but these are his last days (EDP, August 20) 'Three-year-old Dexter's death in dog attack stuns community.'

Dexter Neal died after being savaged by an American bulldog. After the incident last week the dog was seized and placed in kennels and it has been suggested that an inquiry was underway to determine if it was classifiable as a dangerous breed.

This is only academic; it was a dangerous dog and it should – given this the ultimate of tragedies – have been immediately destroyed as a sign of respect for Dexter Neal and of a determination to prevent any further tragedies of this nature. The tragedy deepens when the conduct of the governing authorities is looked at. The RSPCA seems to suggest that dogs are potentially innocent – from a genetic view-point – of such conduct. The danger, they infer, comes from owner faults such as lack of training and socialising. I know this is erroneous.

In my first attempt at breeding labradors 45 years ago my own pick of the litter was not temperamentally sound and careful research satisfied me that the fault was genetic. In relation to the tragedy of Dexter Neal another society, called Born Innocent, takes the same line.

A patron of that society is reported in the national press as saying: 'Dogs are not born to bite. It's taught or caused by the environment they are in.' This is amazing in its naivety. Dogs have been with us for tens of thousands of years and their talents for hunting and guarding have been adapted and refined into many roles. I have a personal belief that the innocent gaze of small children may trigger the tragedy. An unblinking gaze may trigger the aggression in a dog for whom such a stare is seen as a challenge.


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Now, if I belonged to one of those organisations I have alluded to, I would be advocating teaching children not to stare dogs in the face and be self-effacing when things go wrong. Such an approach is, however, turning a blind eye to the real danger. Dog breeding deserves rigorous control and dog-licensing should be the first step in the process.

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Richard Shepheard, Barney

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