In Luxembourg“Never leave a child alone with a dog, not even the family dog”
LUXEMBOURG – While two young children have been killed in the United States by family pit bulls, how can such tragedies be avoided in the private sector?
Two pit bulls attacked and killed two children aged 2 years and 5 months at the family home in Memphis, USA this week. The mother, who tried to get between her dogs and the little ones, was seriously injured. A drama whose circumstances are unknown and which it is useless to extrapolate about at the moment, but which rests the debate around this kind of news. “When it’s pit bulls or malinois, of course everyone talks about it!”, laments Christian Bourgatte, behavioral scientist for dogs in Dudelange.
According to him, without taking anything away from this tragedy, it is useless to stigmatize one breed of dog in particular, since everyone, and “especially small dogs”, can be made to react badly even in the private context and with regard to their own masters.
“A fortnight ago I intervened in a family where the small dog, a cross, had torn two fingers off a little girl”, explains the professional, for whom the responsible in most cases are the masters and not the ‘animal’. “A dog doesn’t come into the world bad”, supports the one who estimates that he takes care of “about 300 dogs a year”, in the Grand Duchy and on the borders, for behavioral problems, including “about fifty that went as far as bites”.
“Apply good training, whether it’s a pit bull or a chihuahua”
Luxembourg has never experienced tragedies like Memphis. “Personally, I’ve never had cases of serious bites, disfigured people myself,” says Laurence Champagne, also a dog behaviorist based in Bettembourg. “But there are also attacks in Luxembourg, it happens often like elsewhere, even cases of dogs killing other dogs during a walk… but we never talk about it,” adds Christian Bourgatte. When questioned on Thursday, the Grand Duke Police could not provide detailed statistics.
Anyway, how to avoid the maximum to arrive there? “Put rules in place very quickly as soon as the puppy arrives. Sometimes I even accompany families before they have the dog, to find a suitable breed, to prepare the reception as well as possible”, explains Laurence Champagne.
“It’s never too late to work with the dog”
“We must avoid new sectors, choose a good breeder and use good training, that’s no secret. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a pit bull or a chihuahua”, explains Christian Bourgatte, who nevertheless reminds us to “never leave a child alone with a dog, not even the family dog”.
The two professionals admit that dogs can also be disturbed for other reasons, related to the context of their birth, their origin and the facts of life they may have gone through. “But it’s never too late to work with if the families call us”, persuades Mr Bourgatte. “In Luxembourg, I followed a dog that had spent five years locked up on a balcony without ever coming out. A neighbor took him in, he could be aggressive, but never with her”, illustrates Laurence Champagne. Neither professionals in Luxembourg have until now been able to recommend the killing of an animal considered dangerous, at worst placement in another environment.