Life & Style | Pets

Pet alert: Vicious dogs brought to book

Authorities distribute booklets on dangerous breeds so that the cannine calamity that struck Dubai Pet Show is not repeated

  • By Muby Asger, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 February 23, 2012
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Clockwise from left: American Staffordshire terrier, Argentinian fighting dog, Japanese fighting dog, pitbull terrier

Dubai: Following a controversy surrounding the death of a toy poodle caused by an American Staffordshire terrier at Dubai Pet Show, the debate rages about whether certain breeds of dog, including all types of pitbulls, should be banned as pets.

While authorities have stepped up efforts to educate the public on the import of vicious dog breeds, dog owners have mixed views.

Following the incident, booklets issued by the Government of Dubai and Dubai Municipality were found outside doors at veterinary clinics and homes across Dubai. The book, written in Arabic and English, serves as a reminder that "there are many breeds of dogs of an aggressive nature and dangerous to public safety".

Although in distribution since 2008, the booklet has gathered renewed interest since February 3 incident. Titled Vicious Dog Breeds, the book lists dog breeds banned from importation into Dubai; breeds banned from being kept in apartments and shared accommodation and the reasons behind the ban.

alarming trend

There have been over 150 cases of dog bites and attacks investigated by the veterinary services section in Dubai Municipality from 2007 to the end of 2010.

However, just as important is the safety of the animals.

According to information from Dubai Municipality, "most of these [banned] breeds are used for wrestling and fighting, which is considered a violation of animal welfare legislation and laws". The book states that it's important to provide proper space to these animals to express their natural behaviour, thereby forbidding certain breeds in flats. "Maintaining the safety of animals also involves protecting the animals from being used as a target for hitting by arrows, or enjoying dog wrestling, as our Prophet (PBUH) forbade us in so many traditions."

Residents, meanwhile, have mixed opinions. Linda Fernando, a Mirdif pet owner, says that although she has nothing against any breed of dog, she leans towards the belief that not all breeds make ideal pets. "I would like to know why people feel the need to have these specific breeds in their homes. They may be cute and cuddly for a little while, but just as suddenly they may also go the opposite way. In countries such as New Zealand and Australia, if you do somehow own one of these breeds, it is compulsory to have them sterilised and muzzled at all times when out in public. Anyone who gets caught with a dangerous dog left unmuzzled would be taken to court," she says.

Storme W, a Jumeirah resident, who shares her home with two American Staffordshire terriers, says, "My Staffies aren't dangerous. They wouldn't harm a fly, but if the law says they need to be muzzled in public, then muzzled they will be. However, if I'm just taking my two girls out for a walk, I won't muzzle them. We'll go to a quiet area, away from the public. When we went to the dog show earlier this month, both my dogs had on a soft muzzle which wouldn't hurt them. But as to why they are banned breeds, I'll never understand."

UK dog behaviourist and Abu Dhabi expat Jane Sigsworth said: "Back in the UK, we have a saying about dogs: Deeds, not breeds. What that means is that a dog should be judged on its own merit and individuality, not on its breed," she says. "Just because two dogs share a breed does not necessarily mean they share a behaviour."

Despite the banning of certain breeds, the number of annual dog bites has not decreased. "Banning breeds doesn't always work," says Sigsworth. "What we need is to educate people. Dog owners need to learn their pet's language. Most dogs would never bite out of the blue, they always give out warning signals which people fail to read. Attacks could be prevented if people were more educated about their dogs," said Sigsworth.

Comments (4)

Share your views
  1. Added 16:00 February 23, 2012

    no pets should be allowed in the buildings.Most of the pets around are unleashed and are serious threats to people, especially in the Jumeirah Lake towers area.please take serious note of this. Pets should not be allowed in the buildings as there is no security most of the time and should only be allowed in the villas. Thankyou.

    am, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:46 February 23, 2012

    I was a participant at the Terry Fox Run that happened at Abu Dhabi Corniche on 17th. I witnessed some bringing along their pet dogs, some of them looking fierce in size and expressions. In the wake of the recent incident that happened at the Dog Show in Dubai, I address a concern: should we allow pet dogs to be brought to public events of this magnitude, where large gathering, including toddlers, children and all others are present. If by chance another dog pass by and intimidate or even due to any other reason, the dog, which is even though on a leash get intimidated, the scene would turn nasty. I love dogs, do have them back home with proper care and exercise and control, and not am against having them as our favorite pet. However, on a public gathering of this size, I raise concern whether they should be allowed in by authorities who organise them or even by public authorities as a standard restriction.

    Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:05 February 23, 2012

    I think that there is no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner. Some people are not responsible enough to own a dog. I have known staffies and rottweilers to be very gentlest dogs yet in the wrong hands they can be dangerous - like any animal.

    Jo, Dubai, United Kingdom

  4. Added 13:59 February 23, 2012

    To Gulf News- please re-check your postings- the picture in the bottom right corner is NONE of the breeds you mentioned in the list. To people who are not well versed with dog breeds, you have just tagged a potential Jack Russell Terrier crossbreed mutt as a potentially dangerous dog. To Readers- it's always easy to find a scary picture of any animal on the Internet so DO NOT be swayed by the media. In reality, dogs are and have been domesticated for centuries. Certain dogs have been bred for the SOLE purpose of fighting and although some "might' they may have tendencies towards aggression, it is ALWAYS the handlers/ owners responsibility to exercise the appropriate cautionary measures. Please do not boycott a 'breed' for its reputation- we're not living in the dark ages. Instead, boycott 'owners' who have no business assuming responsibility over a faithful companion.

    JM, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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