JAN MOIR: Dogs aren’t fluffy toys. If they are not cared for properly there will only be more fatal attacks because it is often irresponsible owners that are the problem – not the animal
A little girl is mauled to death by a dog in a back garden in Milton Keynes. A dog walker is savaged to death by the eight-strong pack of dogs she is exercising in Surrey.
These two recent incidents are part of a horrifying rise in fatal dog attacks.
Last year was the deadliest on record, with ten people killed in England and Wales alone, twice the number killed in 2021.
Not all these deaths were caused by breeds such as Bully, American bulldog, Cane Corso or a crossbreed of both, but it is notable how often they factor in such incidents.
However, it is not always the dogs but often the irresponsible owners who are the real problem.
The ones who don’t exercise them correctly, the ones who keep them stuck at home, the ones who buy them ‘for buttons’ from some bloke down the pub.
Worst of all are the ones who are so emotionally and intellectually stunted that they encourage, then take a perverse pleasure in their pet’s natural aggression. Yes, those people. Those kind of men. You know who I mean.
All this horror comes at a time of rising dog ownership in the UK, up from nine million to 13 million dogs in just six years.
A little girl is mauled to death by a dog in a back garden in Milton Keynes
Dogs are everywhere now and is it my imagination or is there a particular surge in the number of daffy doodle dogs: the tiny-brained cockapoos and goldendoodles, cavapoos and labradoodles, bred for their cuteness and little else?
God, they are adorable. In my locale of West London parks and streets you can barely walk five yards without tripping over one and shrieking at its adorability.
However, in general the increase in dog numbers sometimes feels swamping. You can see it, occasionally even smell it — and that’s not nice.
The pandemic understandably pushed many people towards the companionship of being a dog owner, yet post-lockdown numbers continue to rise as more and more people decide to work from home.
The vast majority are responsible, kind and loving owners. Yet something has fractured in our relationship with dogs — and there are many reasons why.
Last week I watched the popular Channel 4 series The Dog House with mounting dismay. Bad enough that an animal rescue centre in Cambridgeshire has been turned into an anthropomorphic canine Love Island for viewers’ entertainment (it is billed as the dog-dating show where people and dogs are matched and — hopefully — fall in love).
But no one seems to take the obligations and demands of dog ownership seriously, not even the staff who work there.
One even tied a little bow in a dog’s hair before its human doggy date. I could have cried at the indignity of it all.
A dog walker is savaged to death by the eight-strong pack of dogs she is exercising in Surrey
And as the putative dog owners told their stories on camera, the collective theme seemed to be ‘what can this dog do for poor me?’ and not ‘what can I do for this poor dog?’.
At this puppy orphanage, the focus is on the humans, not the animals. And that is wrong.
One family wanted a dog to help them cope with a gender-transitioning teenager ‘to give us new memories’.
I understood the impulse — but this would be a lot to ask of the great empathiser Oprah Winfrey herself, let alone an emotionally scalded rescue dog called Tiddles.
And when Tiddles initially failed to bond with the teenager, the family nearly had a collective nervous breakdown.
Meanwhile, a dopey couple who had just moved in together wanted a ‘medium-to-big-sized dog’ — it was sad they didn’t seem to have a matching amount of common sense.
They settled on a muscular, frisky good boy with a cute eyepatch, but no one seemed bothered that — as they both said they went out to work — the dog would apparently be left alone in the house all day.
Then a gloomy woman suffering from long Covid wanted a dog to cuddle and keep her company on the sofa — but she couldn’t even walk up a flight of stairs, let alone exercise a dog.
Not all these deaths were caused by breeds such as Bully, American bulldog, Cane Corso or a crossbreed of both
Yes, more and more people want dogs — but far too many want them for selfish reasons. Dogs are not fluffy toys, animatronic Beanie Babies, woofy love-bombs timed to explode when you come home from work and momentarily make you feel better about yourself.
They are a commitment, sometimes a chore and always an adult responsibility. It takes energy, organisation, devotion and money to look after a dog properly, not to mention an understanding of canine behaviour and a passing knowledge of animal first aid.
I absolutely love dogs and would adore to have one of my own — but I know it wouldn’t be fair because I couldn’t devote the time and attention needed on a daily basis.
That doesn’t make me a saint, just a practical realist. And I wish more people were the same.
The very existence of professional dog walkers such as Natasha Johnston is testament to the fact that too many owners are not prepared to give their dogs the care they need.
The 28-year-old died from ‘multiple penetrating dog bites to the neck’ after the animals she was walking turned on her in a frenzied attack in Surrey last month.
Poor Natasha, an innocent just trying to earn some money. And poor dogs, forced to take their exercise miserably yoked together.
No wonder some dog experts argue that eight is too many dogs to walk at one time because they might be spooked into a dangerous pack mentality: exactly what seems to have happened here.
Some local councils limit dog walkers to four animals at a time — surely others should follow?
If you do get a dog, promise me that the least you will do is treat it with dignity and respect.
It doesn’t help that social media is awash with images of super-cute dogs doing super-cute things, while images of newborn babies snuggling up to the family pet are inexplicably popular — despite the obvious danger.
It is all right until it’s wrong; it is good until it is bad. Too many lives have been lost not to take the threat and the issue seriously. For dogs are animals, not toys.
Bit late for a Mone, Carol
Really, I can’t get enough of this marvellous row between Carol Vorderman and Michelle Mone.
Once upon a time, the two women were closer than sisters, the Claudia and Tess of the launch party circuit.
They ligged and giggled their way through mag launches, charity bashes, drinks at Scott’s and swanky balls. If there was a free glass of champagne, they were at it.
If there was a red carpet, they were on it, while no Ladies Day at Cheltenham was complete without the Rear of the Year and Baroness Bra in attendance, like two halves of a very glam pantomime donkey.
Photographs down the years show the highly groomed twosome hot-brushed and poodle-primped right down to their glossy manes and gelled hooves — but now the going is rough.
Carol Vorderman and Michelle Mone: Once upon a time, the two women were closer than sisters, the Claudia and Tess of the launch party circuit
As scandal continues to engulf Michelle Mone and her PPE dealings, Carol is keen to distance herself from the disgraced peer.
‘I knew her many years ago and then dropped her like a stone as soon as I realised what kind of person she was,’ she told a startled TV audience.
A source close to Baroness Mone, the Dropped Stone, said: ‘I really don’t understand why Carol has started this attack.
What are the reasons — a hunger for publicity, or maybe her coming to the end of her TV career?’
Ouch. It was all so different once. In her autobiography, My Fight To The Top, Mone reveals that Carol also advised her on other matters too — like hiring a private detective to spy on her husband.
Discovering his unfaithfulness, Michelle scratched his Porsche ‘to shreds’ with a knife, put laxatives in his coffee, let down his tyres and put his shirts in the bin. All this would suggest Carol knew exactly what kind of woman Michelle was all along.
Are you thinking what she’s thinking?
Lily Allen’s Brooklyn home has been featured in Architectural Digest, the glossy magazine where even the most privacy-conscious stars can’t resist showing off their expensive sofas and bathrooms.
Lily’s pad is divine! And she reveals that on their first date, she told now-husband David Harbour that she wanted a Plain English kitchen.
Lily Allen’s Brooklyn home has been featured in Architectural Digest, where even the most privacy-conscious stars can’t resist showing off their expensive sofas and bathrooms
I like her style. The Suffolk-based company make the kind of beautiful bespoke kitchen cabinetry that only pop stars or Carrie Johnson can afford.
A basic cupboard costs £20,000, while a whole fit-out like Lily’s would be £100,000 and beyond.
The couple wanted their kitchen, complete with its £8,000 chandelier and expensive crockery, to look like it was ‘inherited from a kooky Italian nonna with fabulous taste’.
It makes me feel completely — what’s the Italian word I’m looking for — gelosa.
Here comes the bride and gloom
Bridezilla Nicola Peltz hired three different wedding planners for her marriage to Brooklyn Beckham and fell out with all of them.
Now at least one is being sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for not meeting expectations.
As the saying goes, the bigger the wedding, the bigger the row and the shorter the marriage. Watch this space — and I don’t mean the one between Chef Brooklyn’s ears.
Bridezilla Nicola Peltz hired three different wedding planners for her marriage to Brooklyn Beckham and fell out with all of them
Bruce still in his Glory Days
Is there anybody alive out there? At the age of 73, Bruce Springsteen is back on the road with the E Street Band, their latest world tour kicking off in Florida this week and ending in Italy in July.
The shows come after his 2019 solo album Western Stars, his lockdown album Letter To You and his recent album of soul classics, Only The Strong Survive.
All different, all brilliant, all testament to the fact that staying relevant often means being unafraid of change.
At the age of 73, Bruce Springsteen is back on the road with the E Street Band
His new show is a 28-song set that ends with a solo Springsteen singing I’ll See You In My Dreams, a recent song about mortality and death, when ‘all the summers have come to an end’.
From living and loving to crying and dying, this man and his songs are just as inspiring now as they were nearly 50 years ago when that screen door first slammed.
Maybe we ain’t that young any more? Maybe so, but thrilling to know there is still plenty of petrol in the Bruce tank.
Scottish-born, U.S.-based actor Alan Cumming has handed back his OBE because he is uncomfortable about certain aspects of the British Empire
- Scottish-born, U.S.-based actor Alan Cumming has handed back his OBE because he is uncomfortable about certain aspects of the British Empire. Oh dear. Wait until Alan discovers what went on in America in the name of colonialism. That will shock his wee socks right off. If he really feels uneasy about the incivilities of the past, then perhaps he should return his beloved 12-acre estate in the Catskills, upstate New York, back to the Mohicans. They lived on the land there for centuries before being pushed off it by rampaging white Americans.Alan’s OBE hypocrisy is on a par with Professor David Olusoga. He’s the right-on historian who appeared on Harry and Meghan’s Netflix series to bemoan racist Britain. He accepted an OBE from King Charles this week, but requested no publicity. I wonder why.
- Adele is known for a tendency to over-emote. Perhaps this is what makes her singing voice so passionate — but there are limits to empathy. This week, she burst into tears when a fan showed her a photograph of his late wife. For God’s sake! Would Frank Sinatra or Aretha Franklin have done the same?
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