Dog Attacks Tot: Where Were the Parents?

Rhodesian RidgebackA Rhodesian Ridgeback could be facing a doggy death sentence for attacking a 3-year-old outside of a pub in the UK, biting her shoulder and lifting her off of her feet. The toddler was rushed to the hospital to be treated for her extreme puncture wounds on her shoulder and arm.

The owner, Aaron Clifford, will also be facing a conviction for allowing his dog, Reggie, to become out of control in a public place. He's begging for his dog to be let off the hook, swearing that this is the first time his pet has ever bitten anyone (however, the dog supposedly growled at another child on the same day as the incident, and snapped at a 4-year-old boy last year). Aaron has already started taking the steps to gain more control over the animal by having it neutered and wearing a muzzle in public.


Unfortunately for Reggie, it may be too little too late. It's one thing for a dog to attack someone when the stranger comes into their private yard; it's a completely different story when this attack occurs supposedly unprovoked in public.

Aaron says that they had tied Reggie to a picnic bench away from everyone else while he and his girlfriend made a quick stop. Though there is no proof of exactly what set the dog off, Aaron speculates that the animal might have been affected by the exceptionally hot weather or that perhaps the child accidentally stepped on the dog's tail, which had previously been injured.

I’m very upset about the girl but this was a one-off. Reggie didn’t eat for two weeks -- he knew he’d done wrong. I never meant it to happen and didn’t see it coming. I only pleaded guilty because he did actually bite someone.

Though I'm not yet a mother, the maternal instinct in me says that if an animal attacks once, it can attack again, and the next time the damage may be even worse. And I'll be damned if I'm okay with having that risk walking the same sidewalks that my (hypothetical) kids and I walk on -- muzzle or not. Especially in areas like a park, kids are running around all over the place -- are parents expected to hold their hand with each and every step they take while they play to avoid potential attacks? Kind of hard for a kid to play while constantly holding on to mom's hand. You might as well just put your kid in a plastic bubble. These incidents happen within seconds, and I'd barely call it negligence on the parents' part (unless they really were simply not paying attention whatsoever). However, since it's unknown if the animal was provoked, that leads me to believe this may be one of those "unless" situations. If the parents were paying attention, wouldn't they have seen if the child pulled the dog's tail or not?

I feel the owner did his part by tying the dog who (for the most part) had a clean record away from everyone else. It's the parents' responsibility to keep an eye on their kids and teach them not to approach unattended animals, no matter how cute they may be. Animals are animals. As trained as they may be, they still have animal instincts that can be set off by something as simple as a smell or sound (or pulling of their tail).

If the dog was truly unprovoked (i.e., the child did nothing but simply run past), then I'd say it's a threat to society. But if the child approached the dog and stepped on its tail, with her parents looking on and thinking, Oh look at her with the cute (unattended) dog, then yeah, I'm placing blame on the parents.

Gosh these stories break my heart -- for both the child and the pet.

What are your thoughts? Do you think this situation calls for the dog to be put to sleep? The owner to face jail time?


Image via Maufdi/Flickr

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