Please Stop Hounding Staffies For Protecting Their Families
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO. I'm sick of uneducated people hounding my dogs simply because of their breed.
You've no doubt heard this week's horrific news story in which Melbourne woman Kashila Chintamunnee told the world that her Dachshund, Coco, was mauled to death by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier.
In a graphic Facebook post, Chintamunnee posted photos of herself drenched in blood, assumed to be that of her deceased pup, begging others to find the identity of the Staffy's owner.
The story became more interesting when Claudia Harrison owner of the Staffy, Hero, reportedly claimed that three dogs who were unaccompanied by an owner -- including Coco the Dachshund -- had approached her dog in the park.
It's understood that Hero was wearing a harness, while the trio of dogs were not, reportedly to have escaped from a garage door across the road.
(It's important to note that Cardinia Council -- which Packenham is a part of -- states that "dogs must be kept on a leash when in a public place, except if in a designated off-leash dog park".)
With Harrison jumping on a table to protect her child from the ensuing dog fight, Hero fought back against the three dogs, which unfortunately led to Coco's death.
It's an incredibly devastating situation for everyone involved -- no one should experience the pain of losing their cherished four-legged friend in such a horrible, graphic way -- but for fellow Staffy owners, the aftermath of the story is also incredibly infuriating, and something we are all too used to by now.
In a world where social media commentary is a free-for-all, owners of such breeds are constantly finding themselves at odds with uneducated keyboard warriors who declare that "Staffies are vicious!" and "all big dogs should be banned!".
Hell, I've even been embroiled in a heated Twitter war with a controversial Australian journalist who claimed that large dog breeds should be put down in a "dog buyback, similar to John Howard's gun buyback" where they would trade-in their beloved pet for a "safer" breed.
But before I delve into the specifics of why these constant media attacks on Staffies and other bully breeds are ignorant and detrimental -- I'd like you to meet my Staffy, Maisie, who I adopted a few years ago from Blacktown pound on the day she was about to be put down.
Maisie's hobbies include meeting people, napping on every human's bed, stealing pizza and going for walkies -- though some people might have you believe that because of her breed, she's a "menace", "a killer", a "dangerous dog", which is just not true.
Owning a Staffy -- along with two other big dogs -- my heart goes out to Hero's family, who has been subjected to a vile social media witch hunt with Facebook comments demanding Hero be put down over the incident, simply because he had been defending his family.
I know that if I happened to be walking Maisie at my local park and three dogs rushed at me and I reacted in a way that showed I was frightened or threatened, Maisie would protect me in any way possible.
I also know that because of what she looks like, she would likely be blamed regardless of whose "fault" it was.
Staffies are notoriously loyal, human-oriented dogs that will protect their family at all costs, and they're the latest in a long line of breeds that have been demonised. Remember all the other breeds of "dangerous dogs" that have been vilified over the years?
As dog whisperer Cesar Milan says, “In the 70s they blamed Dobermans, in the 80s they blamed German Shepherds, in the 90s they blamed Rottweilers."
He adds, "When will they blame the humans?”
Perpetuating these false narratives about Staffies -- along with other large breeds of dogs -- only encourages ineffective Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) laws, which aims to target certain breeds of dogs and punish responsible dog guardians. In fact, the RSPCA have come out denouncing the legislation, saying:
"The RSPCA does not support breed-specific legislation, also known as BSL.
"RSPCA Australia considers that any dog of any size, breed or mix of breeds may be dangerous and thus dogs should not be declared dangerous on the basis of breed or appearance. Each individual dog should be assessed based on their behaviour," the website continues.
"The RSPCA does not believe that BSL is in any way effective in preventing or reducing dog attacks or in protecting the public from dangerous dogs."
At the end of the day, the responsibility of tragic events like what happened in Melbourne lies with the owner, not the breed. As an owner of three large dogs, I know that I have to be vigilant when it comes to correcting bad behaviour and training them adequately. I know that owning such powerful breeds comes with a responsibility that lies with me -- not anyone else.
This responsibility, however, doesn't just lie with owners of Staffies -- or any other big dogs for that matter. I've lost count of the number of times a small dog has come up to me and my dogs -- unleashed -- yapping in their faces while their owner fails to reprimand their dog.
In fact, I've stopped taking my dogs to my local off-leash park altogether due to the behaviour of these sort of owners.
Not only has the above happened numerous times, but I've also had owners of small dogs pick up their pets and scoff at me while demanding I "get that dog away" as my dogs try to make new pint-sized friends in the off-leash dog park.
With so many anecdotes about aggressive small dogs biting children, it adds credence to my theory that owners of small breeds feel less inclined to train their pets -- with some (not all), simply using their teacup-sized Chihuahua or Toy Poodles as a fashion accessory. But we don't hear about this because there's a general disproportionate risk of injury associated with larger and/or more physically powerful breeds.
Basically, if you can't give your dog the attention and training it requires, maybe look into getting a goldfish instead.
If you'd like to help Hero the Staffy, you can donate or sign a petition to save him from being put to sleep by heading to Change.org.