Criticise dog owners at your peril.

Increasingly it seems that dog owners are not aware of or care about the dangers, etiquette or protocol of walking their dog.

One of the worst crimes you can commit against dog owners is to dare to criticise them or try to offer advice on how they should control or care for their dog. Most owners immediately take offence or become hostile perhaps out of arrogance, embarrassment or guilt. Increasingly it seems that dog owners are not aware of or care about the dangers, etiquette or protocol of walking their dog(s).

Once a person acquires a dog many believe they automatically assume the status of an expert on dog care and behaviour. But many have little idea of the legislation that surrounds responsibilities of dog ownership and the risks their dog could pose to themselves and others. A fatal recent incident in the U.K. where a young woman dog walker was killed by a pack of eight dogs she was exercising highlights this lack of understanding.

dog walker with pack of dogs
An fatal accident waiting to happen and one that recently did.

This attitude manifests itself in many situations such as when facing an out-of-control dog hurtling towards you growling and with hackles raised. This has happened to me on three occasions recently while out on countryside walks and in each case the owner has taken umbrage when asked politely to keep their dog under control. One incident involved a dog than ran up snarling with hackles raised and circled behind us while we stood stock still. The owner some 50 yards away sauntered up and just remarked “he won’t harm you”.

Any attempt to point out their responsibilities under the U.K. Dangerous Dog Act 1991 in not allowing their dog to cause fear and/or apprehension to others is met with being petty-minded. This also includes allowing a dog to jump up at you.

dog owners not clearing up after their dog. animalrightsandwrongs.uk

Dog owners do not take kindly to be given advice.

Pointing out to an owner that they haven’t cleaned up after their dog or have left full poo bags hanging from a branch or dumped by the side of the path causes instant offence and anger and it is a brave person to even consider it.

Then there is the problem of what to do when you see a dog being needlessly mishandled or ill-treated. It takes an even braver person indeed to intervene these days. I once saw a woman violently yanking her dog’s lead so violently every few yards as she walked along that she was pulling it off its feet. All because he wasn’t adequately trained on a lead. She did not take any advice calmly when I intervened.

The ultimate insult.

The ultimate insult to a dog owner, or any other pet owner for that matter, is to be accused of animal abuse or infringing byelaws such as not cleaning up after their dog. Like parking wardens, officials like RSPCA Inspectors and council staff issuing fines often find themselves in altercations. The problem in the case of dogs lies in that most owners righteously believe they are all experts on canine care and ownership and can do no wrong and act as they want.

Most dog owners are thankfully considerate to other people and their dogs, but there does seem to be an increasing number who do not understand their duty to others, and it is the dogs that may suffer in the end from their indifference or selfish behaviour.

Related Articles

Pope Francis laments trend of substituting children for pets.

Pope Francis’s recent lament against substituting children for pets irritated and offended many people, but were his words taken out of context?

Pope Francis recently lamented the increasing modern trend of substituting children for pets. He declared at a general audience at the Vatican that not having children is “selfish and diminishes us and takes away our humanity”. He also stated that many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats. Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children.”

The Vatican defended him, stating his oration was taken out of context. Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service believed his words concerning people who did not want children was “what stuck in many people’s craw.”

The Pope assumes people know him and the context of his words. When they don’t, hackles are raised as in the case of his view on couples having pampered pets instead of children. The nervous laughter in the Vatican audience hall on Jan. 5 should have tipped him off that he was heading for a mishap.

Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service January 11 2022.

Animal lovers who obviously did not know him, construed his words as being anti petkeeping and an accusation of selfishness on the part of those not wishing either to have children or unfortunately not able to. This caused outrage and offence to a great number of people.

Every media outlet across the world picked up on the story and it was front page news and filled social media sites. Pet owners and celebrities like Ricky Gervais were queuing up to disparage it.

Animal rightists may have welcomed his comments.

His words may have surprised and confused many people considering he is the first Pope to take his name from St Francis of Assisi patron saint of animals, and is renowned for his love of animals and their rights. He was even voted by the leading animal rights organisation People’s Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2015 as their Person of the Year for his message of kindness to animals.

Ironically, PETA of course, probably welcomed his words and were supportive of his viewpoint as the organisation is against the keeping of all pets, but for differing reasons.

Substituting children for pets causes outcry.

In this era of overpopulation of the planet which causes so many problems for world society, the environment and climate change, it was ill advised for the Pope to make such comments as he was on a hiding to nothing. The subject was preordained to upset a lot of people whether believers or not.

It was a bit of an own goal and opened the Vatican to cries of hypocrisy in light of all the recent child abuse allegations and the fact that priests do not have children. It also disregarded the solace, joy and companionship which pets bring to the lives of the old, sick, lonely and depressed and childless couples. Also, the benefits pets provide for the social development of children.

Rule over every living thing and multiply.

But it shouldn’t come as a surprise as in general religion throughout history has not been a great fan of animals. It has always been preached that humans take precedence over any considerations of the animals. Most religions give humans “dominion” over all living creatures with some Christian faiths going as far as to tell their followers to “rule over every living thing, multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”

It might be beneficial for the church if the Pope’s advisors warn him that he upsets the world’s pet lovers at his peril.

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