New attack fails to reignite debate on dangerous dogs

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You may remember the tragic case of the little boy from Hamburg who was mauled to death in June by two pit bull terriers. The savage attack revived the debate on aggressive breeds in Germany, and forced the German government to impose a ban on the breeding of all dangerous dogs. But there is little legislation to deal with the problem here in the Czech Republic, and even if there was, what happens when someone is mauled by a 'family' dog such as a German shepherd? Lucie Krupickova reports:

The latest incident happened on Friday in the northern town of Ceska Lipa. A young man had tied his German shepherd to a tree while chatting with a group of friends. The dog broke free of his leash and sprang at a 15-year-old girl sitting nearby. The girl is now in hospital undergoing plastic surgery. Doctors say she will be disfigured for life.

The owner could face two years in prison, if, that is, the police decide to press charges. But it's not the first case this year of a child being mauled by a savage dog. In fact, it's not even the first case this year in Ceska Lipa. A few weeks ago, a ten-year-old boy was attacked by a German shepherd and a rottweiler, leaving him with serious leg injuries.

In some West European countries, breeding of dangerous dogs, such as rottweilers or pit bull terriers, has already been banned. But even if similar legislation was in place in the Czech Republic, it would have done little to prevent the tragedies. Both cases in Ceska Lipa involved a German shepherd--a trusty companion and watchdog for thousands of Czechs across the country. Calling for German shepherds to be banned would lead to a public outcry.

The chairman of the Union of Czech and Moravian Dog-Breeders, Josef Nemec, is convinced that banning any breed of dog is pointless. He argues that any breed, from a cocker spaniel to a doberman, can maul people. There is no such thing as a dangerous breed, he told me, only owners who raise dogs in a way which makes them dangerous. Mr Nemec added that his organisation wants better legislation to make dog owners more responsible for their dogs, and has offered the Czech parliament professional help in drawing up better legislation. But there will probably be little public pressure for better laws, until a real tragedy, like the killing in Hamburg, happens in the Czech Republic.

Author: Lucie Krupičková
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