The magazine your dog would want you to read
Editorial: July-August 2003
What price dog ownership
NEW ZEALAND seems to be undergoing some very strange changes right now, and it seems to me that we have completed the first phase - the dumbing down of the population.
Now we are entering the second phase - the phase where nobody can understand what anyone else is talking about, where blame is attributed to anyone in the general direction of any crime, and where innocent people are expected to shut up and do the time because it really doesn't matter who did it as long as it seems someone is guilty and has paid! (I suspect all this is a consequence of years of living in an environment where nobody in authority can be held responsible for anything).
I am talking, of course, about the continuing saga of the two New Zealand men who went to jail after the recent horrific dog attack on little Carolina Anderson. This saga is continuing because of its very strange character that seems not to have anything to do with justice but rather with revenge and cover-up.
After a short court case which from the public's view seemed to ignore questions and ignore selected evidence, both men at the supposedly guilty dog's residence were given jail terms of two months each... but... only one of the men owned the "guilty" dog. It was registered in his name and was on the council files as such.
Does this mean then that if a wife, husband or partner owns a dog that offends, that partner, husband or wife is equally responsible and will from now on share any jail term, periodic detention or other form of punishment? If that is not the intention, then this particular conviction and jail term is both strange and unusual!
Both dogs at the residence were killed, even though one had not been off its leash at all that night and had nothing to do with the incident... does this mean that the authorities were by no means certain they had the right dog and killed both in order to cover all possibilities? If so, why the huge and very evident hurry?
It was clear from the start that the two men involved could not give any evidence of their innocence as, like everyone else involved in the incident, they were not there at the time and they did not know what had happened. It seems that the nearest dog in the park was grabbed and nobody knew if it had done anything or not. Dog owners were further disgusted when authorities seemed not to care what dog mauled the little girl as long as there was at least one that would pay the price.
When the non-owner of the "guilty" dog appealed his sentence the judge told him it was time to serve the time and go to jail. No judgement was made for him to be in a safe environment and he was duly attacked and hospitalised on the first morning of that sentence. Could any such judge hold a straight face and claim he had no idea that could happen to a gay man in prison? I think the word moron would readily come to mind!
Then there is Carolina Anderson's father - his hugely vocal and immediate reaction seems to be way past concern for his daughter ... perhaps it disguised his feelings of guilt - where was he while she was in the park late at night - at the supermarket ... the TAB ... the pub ... Lotto shop? Perhaps none of these but does anyone know? His reaction then and now does seem overly commercial.
The whole process of this case makes me feel very uneasy indeed. If the dog had been pulled off the little girl and held until the owner arrived or was contacted; if the dog had shown some evidence of being the guilty party like blood on its mouth or such (and if anyone had cared enough to bother looking); if there were actually a witness or two who had seen what happened; if the father had not wildly accused any dog within sight; and if the dog's owner had been the only one convicted; then I would have to say yes, the right dog was put down and the right person convicted. But none of these things happened. This case has been heard and concluded with an air of ... "does it matter as long as someone pays"?
Well, let me ask would it matter if your spouse's dog bit someone and the authorities that be arrived at your home to exterminate your complete breeding kennel stock because you live in the same house? Such an event would be completely possible as the law stands ... and with the precedent already set, it could be perhaps the only possible lawful outcome! Is it not time for those still capable of logical thought to devise some workable laws?
And has anyone stopped to think - the guilty dog may still be out there, and home free! - Elezabeth