Boy's tragic death revives dispute over "dangerous breeds" of dogs.

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The terrible fate of a 7 year old boy who was mauled to death by a German Shepherd late last week has evoked a new storm of controversy over whether so called "dangerous breeds" should be banned. TV crews arrived at the boy's home town to bring their viewers a picture of the monster responsible for this tragedy and each brought back a different story.

The terrible fate of a 7 year old boy who was mauled to death by a German Shepherd late last week has evoked a new storm of controversy over whether so called "dangerous breeds" should be banned. TV crews arrived at the boy's home town to bring their viewers a picture of the monster responsible for this tragedy and each brought back a different story. One station said the dog was generally harmless and had been provoked by the child shooting pellets from a toy pistol , another said the dog had been badly abused by its owner and acted unpredictably, a third portrayed the dog as an animal totally out of control, all bared fangs and dripping saliva. Naturally, the nation watched all three reports and by the next morning the public was divided into two camps - have the animal put down immediately and ban dangerous breeds before more lives are endangered or save the poor brute because it was not his fault. Before the public uproar had died down, came the shocking news that yet another young boy had suffered serious injuries after being attacked by a shepherd dog in another part of the country. The issue exploded in the headlines, temporarily putting international developments and the local election campaign in the shade.

Will this suffice ? commentators asked. "Can we have a law to protect our children?" demanded distraught parents. The former human rights commissioner Petr Uhl wrote a emotional essay in one of the Czech dailies saying that dogs did not belong in the city. Which somehow missed its target since the dogs in question lived in the country and had allegedly escaped from their owners yards. Dog trainers and vets argued that the dogs themselves weren't at fault - their owners were. Every paper in the country devoted one or two full pages to the problem, getting every conceivable angle. And, at the end of the day -or rather at the end of an emotional week - it seems that we are exactly where we were before the tragedy. There is no consensus on what needs to be done. Dog owners face from two to five years in jail for negligence resulting in grievous bodily harm or death. But that's too late -people say. We want prevention. A leash and muzzle would help but what to do about owners whose dogs repeatedly escape from their yards or gardens and roam free? Ban potentially dangerous breeds, says the radicals' camp. Here mps fail to agree. What dogs are potentially dangerous dogs? A day devoted to this question in the Lower House last year ended as an exercise in political rhetorics. Then dog owners assembled on Wenceslas Square wearing muzzles and arguing that this was a free country and that their dogs rights were being violated. Under pressure, mps swept the bill off the negotiating table saying it would have to be improved upon.

Since then nothing has changed. Except the number of people who have been attacked by dogs.