Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Dangerous Dogs

The death of any child is a tragedy. It is a particular tragedy for the parents and other family members, though the public can often be moved, quite rightly, to empathy.

Lee Burchell and his girlfriend Amy were looking after a pub, The Rocket, in Leicester and their daughter is dead. It's difficult not to feel distraught for them.

The Times reported: Neighbours said that the Glaze’s dogs, Bess and Bruno, were a familiar sight, prowling the roof of the building to discourage burglars.

One mother, Amy Grimbley, said: “Most adults are terrified of them, never mind kids. I’ve got a three-year-old and I don’t feel at all safe walking past them.

The dogs are known to be vicious. They are guard dogs. They stay on the roof during the day and whenever you walk past you get the feeling they could just jump down and attack you.

They are very aggressive. Everybody around here is petrified of them. The dogs were never allowed in the pub; they were kept upstairs in the living quarters.”

Please don't bomb my house or attack me in the street, but I'm more upset at the parents and relations of the dead baby than I am with the dogs. These were clearly dangerous guard dogs, trained to guard and attack. What were they doing in a pub in Leicester? Is Leicester a third-world enclave in the East Midlands where vicious guard dogs are necessary to protect the local boozer from roaming gangs of Taliban? And, if, as it seems apparent, the dogs were known to be dangerous; why did the parents of Caydee-Lee even bring the baby into the pub?

It is, of course, easy to be wise after the event. I've no doubt that her parents are suffering everyday with the remorse of not seeing the danger and doing something about it. I've no doubt they will suffer for the rest of their lives. I only wish the media would focus on the real issue.

Apparently, because they were on private property, the dogs were not subject to the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991. This only applies to dogs in public places. What a crazy piece of legislation. I'm sure the public thought that the Dangerous Dogs Act was there to prevent attacks by dogs. Now we know this is simply not the case. Keeping vicious dogs in your home, pub, or place of business is fine and if they attack someone, well, so what.

It would seem to be little compensation to Caydee-Lee's parents to know that the dogs were being kept perfectly legally. Better compensation might be found in the sensible application of a Dogs' Act – which might prevent property owners from insisting that a grotty pub in Leicester needs the same level of protection from intruders as Fort Knox.

So, who is ultimately responsible? As harsh and uncaring as it may seem, it is the pub owners. Those dogs should not have been in the pub. The owners should have placed them in kennels whilst on holiday. I conclude that, tragically, in an attempt to secure their pathetic premises, the owners, the grandparents of Caydee-Lee, have contributed to her tragic death. I pity them.

Why the Super-Chavs of Leicester should be allowed to name an innocent baby Caydee-Lee is altogether another matter.

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