Australia awoke on Monday 22 June to hear of yet another disturbing incident involving a baby being harmed by the pet dog. It is such a sad beginning for a new family to have experienced, not only the frightening injuries inflicted on their newborn, but also the loss of trust in a much loved family pet which until this incident (as far as we can tell) has never displayed any threatening behaviours which can be the typical scenario with most dog bites. This is a highly emotive issue and it is easy to react with knee-jerk assumptions about what went wrong.
Australia has the highest rate of pet ownership in the world. As we increasingly invite our much loved furry friends to become a greater part of our families and create more opportunities for them to share our daily lives, it is important to remember that they are in fact a different species to humans. Therefore, our approach in integrating the family dog into family life needs to keep this important fact in mind.
It is important to be aware that the family dog (and cat) can view the arrival of a new member of the household (whether that is the introduction of another dog or cat or even another human being) differently to the way that we as humans view that arrival. Quite often we forget to consider the needs of those existing family members or we are simply unaware of the need to do this and as a result, we can inadvertently set up a potentially dangerous and heartbreaking outcome.
So worrying is the incidence of dog bites especially for children, now that we are spending more time with our pets and bringing them into the home environment, that we have seen the establishment of campaigns and programs such as the state government’s Responsible Pet Ownership Grants Program and campaigns run by the RSPCA and the Australian Veterinary Association.
Pet owners can educate themselves about the importance of addressing the needs of their pets especially when there is a major change to their routines and their environments, as was the case in this incident, through these campaigns..
This scenario and sadly so many others before it are one of the reasons that I established my business. I want to help to educate and assist dog owners to not only enjoy a better relationship with their dogs, but to also avoid tragic situations such as we have seen this week, from occurring. One of my services “Pets and Babes”© specifically addresses these issues and is designed to assist expectant families to prepare their pets for the arrival of their newborn baby.