Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another Dog Attack - Are The Media Making Things Worse?

Nine year old Jordan Gillon is today recovering after being bitten bythree Rottweilers in his home. The incident happened whilst Jordan wasplaying with the son of the dogs' owner. One of the dogs has been put downand the other two are said to be under consideration for the same fate.

Dramatic press reactions swiftly followed the terrible and terrifyingincident. One daily tabloid managed to use the phrase "devil dogs" twice inone short report, alongside emotive descriptions such as "snarling" and"savage".

Whilst much of the broadcast media has been commendably fair andbalanced in the wake of recent dog attacks, the same cannot be said forcertain publications. Clearly, emotive journalism is equally as valuable asbalanced, factual reporting, but at what cost to dogs and their owners?

K9 Magazine spoke to a serving Police Constable who explained firsthand how the media portrayal of dog attacks is having a direct affect on hisday to day work.

"Since the little girl was tragically killed in Leicester, myself andcolleagues have been called to a substantially higher number of dog biteincidents than ever before. We take all calls of this nature very seriously,but what surprises and disturbs is the way parents and onlookers demand thatthe dog in question is destroyed. Of course a bite can be upsetting and ofyes, sometimes fatal, but many times we are called to attend a case where ayoung dog has nipped a child on the arm, sometimes we arrive and the childis off playing whilst the mother protests that the dog is dangerous.

I have even attended scenes where neighbours and witnesses have takenme aside and informed me that the bite victim, usually a child, had beenteasing or scaring the dog in question. One incident involving a Rottweiler pup resulted in me having to caution the parent of a child for wasting police time. She admitted that her son had been "roughing up" the dog andthe bite was so mild that the child was happily playing on his bike.

I put it down to the media hysteria which paints certain breeds askilling machines. It puts panic into communities and they react to it bybeing over cautious."

Perhaps one of the reasons more dog attacks are "happening" is simplythat more dog attacks are being reported in the press, causing more peopleto report minor incidents to the press.


Blogger Conners said...

This officer summed it up PERFECT! Too bad more officers wouldn't speak up like this one did.
If a collie nipped a child, ACC and the police wouldn't be called in, but let it be a bullie, rottie or any of the breeds on the "Dangerous List" and it's RUN to the phone and out comes the media with their big play it up story.

6:05 PM  

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