Why I Take Issue with the Dangerous Dog Notice in Meath

Meath district councillor Alan Tobin posted a picture on Facebook in May 2016 showing a sign illustrating ‘Restricted or Listed Breeds of Dog’. Due to the picture’s two year anniversary coming round, the post has gone viral yet again, having been shared over 39,000 times.

The Public Safety Notices, which were erected in a number of locations across Co Meath in May 2016, warn that additional legal requirements are needed to protect children and adults in the vicinity of listed breeds of dogs.

From the moment it was posted, the picture was received with uproar from both Irish citizens and those overseas. Mr Tobin accompanied the photo of the ‘public safety notice’ with a caption reading: “As a dog owner I’m absolutely delighted that signs I’ve asked for, with pictures, showing the dangerous breeds of dogs have been erected over the past week. It still amazes me that some people think these dogs are ideal family pets.”

The reason why this Facebook post caught my eye, and upset me the most, was the image of the Doberman Pinscher on the list. I have one of these wonderful animals, and there is nothing about him that is threatening, or even slightly frightening. Ted, who is 8 years old this July, has the sweetest soul and the kindest heart of any living being, never mind dog, I have ever been blessed to know.

There is a false understanding that exists in the public eye: big, powerful dogs are dangerous. It is unfortunate that these beautiful, kind animals are being penalised just because of fearmongering. Realistically, there is no concrete scientific evidence to suggest that these dogs are any more dangerous than your average Border Collie, or Labrador.

A study was carried out by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) in 2001 to examine the link between human interaction and aggression in dogs. The taskforce concluded that things like home environment, early development and training, and whether the dog has been neutered or not can all contribute to that individual animal’s pattern of aggression. Funnily enough, the breed of the dog played no part in the evidence.

It seems clear to me then that this Public Safety Notice is doing more harm than good. Being based on harmful stereotypes and no real evidence, these breeds have through no fault of their own developed a damaging reputation.

Based on the evidence collected, targeting a dog for their breed alone is irresponsible. Dogs of all breeds are raised, trained and beaten into aggression. Like owner, like dog, as the saying goes. If a dog is raised in a violent, or neglected environment, then it is inevitable that that energy will exist in the dog too.

I suggest that if you genuinely believe that a dog is born threatening, then you should not be allowed to dictate which breeds people should or should not own. Please do not assume that my dog is dangerous just based on his breed, just because a small percentage of dog owners who do not handle their dogs correctly have aided towards a false reputation.

To conclude, have another picture of my totally non-threatening Doberman.

Edited By Izzy Walker



Other images are writer's own