Do You Like Dogs?

Last night, when I heard about 14 year old Jade Anderson dying at the jaws of 5 dogs, I wrote to David Cameron. I’ve written to David many times before, mostly about the state of the national curriculum and special needs provisions in schools, he never gets back to me, I might try Boris next time! I like thinking about solutions to social problems, not in an ideological way, but a practical way. If I ever become very, very rich I will have pop-up centres all over the poorest parts of London, helping people help themselves.

I love dogs and whenever a dog-owning friend or family member goes on holiday I’m first in line to offer their canine friend a home for a few weeks. In July 2012 I was minding a friends Staff-Rottweiler rescue puppy and we were walking in a local nature reserve. I had him on the lead as we passed through the horses field. Oncoming were a pack of young males, 16-21 with a Staff bitch, off lead. One had a horribly thick chain attached to his waist, he picked the pup up and put her in the horses field, ordering her to chase. Charming behaviour. I pulled my dog tight, and told my Mum to keep close with my 4 year old son. I had a handful of venison liver and slipped a tiny piece into my dog’s mouth every few seconds, this kept him focused on me and not the other puppy. I also dropped liver on the floor in hope the other dog would be more interested in that than us, all was well.

In August I was having lunch at a cafe and a woman commended me on how well-behaved my dog was. She told me she could never take her dog out as she was unruly; anyhow, she was kept indoors for breeding. You can get £500 cash for a blue Staff puppy bred in a council flat, didn’t you know?

My brother and I went to visit a friend who lived on a south London estate many years ago. Her boyfriend grunted at us that he needed help with his dog. It had run away and was snarling and growling at him. We went into a grassy area and after about half an hour, the snarling dog came to us. Said dog, (brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier male, 2 years old) was badly beaten by his owner for ‘running away’. I contacted the RSPCA but didn’t have sufficient details on the owner for them to pursue a case.

I met a girl in the park who was completely emaciated and appeared to be in a vulnerable state of mental health. Her dog was starving. She told me she was sitting on a wall waiting for a lift one day when a seemingly stray Staffy ran up to her. The occupier of the house came out and said ‘she could take the dog, because it wasn’t getting on with her two blue Staffs’. The girl took the dog and considers her to be a friend, she appeared to treat the dog kindly. I gave her all of my liver treats and sat down with the girl for half an hour to see if I could help her make a plan for the next few days to get food and start to look after herself. This girl was an ‘A’ level student with no family around, she told me how she hates all the ‘scum’ with their Staffs and wishes they could just be kind to their dogs but is glad to have her dog as protection too. It is a tough life living in a rough area with nobody to support you, I can understand how she would feel comforted having this dog with her.

My final story of canine tragedy took me to to Norwood to buy a second-hand dog crate. The woman I met is a lover of the Staffordshire Bull Terrier breed and regularly attends activist groups to protect them, she takes it upon herself to rescue SBTs from her local area, but it is an impossible task. All of the dogs were locked in rooms because their behaviour wasn’t safe for visitors with children, only the rescue lady could manage them. She found a 6 month old SBT girl in a flat who had just been fed takeaway food and never been out, the dog was morbidly obese. She asked me if I could re-home two dogs. I couldn’t, I have a young child and don’t have the time for the rehabilitation training these dogs need.

It takes around 2 years to rehabilitate a dog who has been mistreated or neglected. It requires complete dedication and gentle, reward based training.

Possible Solutions for Dog Problems:

Introduce Owner Licensing

  • Make it expensive
  • Make it as difficult as applying for credit/tenancies etc
  • Enforce neutering and spaying
  • Advertise on national television, put the scarers on potentially irresponsible owners as much as possible
  • Train park wardens as dog wardens in association with the police dog sections. Integrate models of expert knowledge with every day practical solutions. Get expertly trained people in parks monitoring owners and their dogs, pass legislation to make owning a dangerous dog a crime. That will soon get people training their dogs!

Introduce Breeder Licensing and Regulation

Currently, there are around 16,000 adverts on for dogs. Some for sale, some to be given away. Over breeding is a huge problem in this country. The government could make a lot of money enforcing strict regulations on dog ownership and breeding. Police are always walking our parks, they should be able to spot check a dog owner as they do a car driver and prosecute accordingly.
Breeding licenses should be compulsory, the FreeAds markets are an easy way to track down illegal sellers, only so much can be sold by word of mouth! They should be very expensive and those caught evading the law should be severely punished.

Raising a dog well is like raising a child, they need to be nurtured and understand what is required of them, without violence or fear, it is a hard balance to strike and takes years. There is no quick solution to showing a dog how to behave, it takes months, even years of repetitive action and dedication, same with kids! Dogs are responsive creatures and as Pavlov showed us all those years ago, they love conditioning.

On a final note…………

I went to see Micky Flanagan do his ‘Work in Progress’ show at the SOHO theatre, Leicester Square. He summed it up in a few lines.

“People with shit for brains, everywhere…….can’t read or write but got a dog who can kill…………..can’t go to work, who’s gonna look after the dog?……..shit for brains………….what is wrong with people?”

Both my parents are from South London council estates, from poor families. They rose upwards for the sake of their pride, dignity and future generations, I am upwardly mobile economically and socially. I know both sides of the coin from my personal and professional life and it gives me compassion and I always want to help, but I’m sick of the underclass harming others with their ignorance and those who harm are the underc

You can train a dog for free, all of these shit for brainers have smart phones, YouTube has millions of dog training videos! Personally, I recommend Dr Ian Dunbar from Dog Star (not the half-trendy bar in Brixton!) if you’re having any troubles with your pup or mutt.

This fella, the Dreadlock Dog man is brilliant on canine behaviour, he lived on the streets of Limerick with a pack of dogs as a kid, no lie and can teach you a thing or two: