A dog, a lot of people have or want to have one, but do not always check the background of the animals. The dog is domesticated over 100.000 years ago and during those years, the amount of different dog breeds has increased. Some of these breeds however, have a history of being aggressive.
It still happens that a lot of pets, including dogs, are bought while the owners have done little to no research. This is especially dangerous when they buy a high-risk dog. High-risk dogs are more aggressive than other dogs and without the right training, they can become dangerous for their owners and other people. When they bite, they can do a lot of harm to the victim and are able to damage muscle and/or organ tissue. It also happens that people bring their dog to a shelter, because their expectations are not met, due to the lack of information beforehand.
After several bite incidents last year (2016), the State Secretary Van Dam announced that a policy should be made for high-risk dogs. There are no exact numbers of how many incidents take place each year, but the estimated amount is 150.000 bite incidents.
The problem with these high-risk dogs is that an attack could even be fatal. For example, when an owner leaves his dog alone to buy something at a store, a small kid might want to pet the dog and this dog might attack the kid if it feels threatened.
Han Swinkels, from the Raad voor Dierenaangelegenheden (RDA), states that the amount of bite incidents increases and as well as the concerns. This is one of the reasons why the RDA wants a policy to decrease the amount of bite incidents. To make sure that this will become reality, the RDA gave advice for a new policy to the cabinet. There were several ideas to decrease the amount of bite incidents.
The first idea is to make a list with all the dogs that meet the characteristics of a high-risk dog. I think this is a quite good idea, because then people are able to find more information about the breed and they know that these dogs have a higher risk of becoming dangerous.
Another idea is to oblige the new owner of a high-risk dog to participate in a course or a training. I think this should not only apply to owners with high-risk dogs, but to all the owners of pets. An owner should be informed about the needs and requirements for their pets. Therefore the amount of bite incidents will decrease, as well as the amount of animals in shelters.
The last idea is to put down a high-risk dog after a bite incident. In my opinion this is very extreme, because the owner is also responsible for the behaviour of their dog and the situation of the bite incident should be taken in consideration. For example if the dog was defending himself. This could be a mitigating circumstance.
One of my solutions which could help to prevent these incidents, is to inform people through commercials or conferences about the high-risk dogs and that a soon-to-be-owner has to make a test to see if he is able to take care of the animal.
The amount of bite accidents has to drop and this can only be achieved when people are informed correctly and are sure they have realistic expectations.
author: Daphne Mathijsen