Sunday May 14th 2023
Blossom, an American XL Bully, trained by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.
This View has been written by Midlothian Dog Trainer Nick McMechan.
The last couple of weeks have been interesting! In fact, no they have been amazing, literally amazing!
It started with an unexpected call, two weeks ago on Tuesday Morning, I’d had a short notice cancellation as a Client had taken unwell with Covid. She’s absolutely fine now, gladly. I found myself with a bit of unexpected free time and decided to get some boring business admin out of the way. Sometime after 8am, the phone is ringing and it’s “No Caller ID”. I never answer these as its often someone asking me if I wanted help with compensation after the car crash I never had or something like that. You know those calls. For some reason I answered.
And, it was a Producer from BBC’s Radio 5 Live. Could I come on the Nicky Campbell Show this Morning. They had seen my article in The Midlothian View – “Why the American XL Bully should NOT be the next banned breed” (if you haven’t read the article the extremely short summary is (1) Breed Specific Legislation is already in place for other breeds and it hasn’t worked (2) Society needs to regulate Dog Breeding (3) Society needs to regulate Dog Ownership).
So, I was to be on the show in less than two hours. Terrifying. I’m not the sort of person who puts themselves in the limelight. I shy away from it to be honest, it’s not my thing. For some reason I said, “Yes, okay”. Inside, I was running for the Hills!
Less than two hours later, I’m on Zoom on the Nicky Campbell show. I was nervous, really nervous. I’m telling myself “don’t screw this up”! It quickly became apparent that I’m at the head of the show with Emma Whitfield. Emma was the Mother of Jack Lis, the 10 year old boy who was sadly killed by an American XL Bully in 2021, in Wales. As I listened to Emma and Nicky talking, which was extremely difficult to listen to, I found myself going through a lot of emotions. Not only were my nerves going through the roof, but I also felt a deep sense of empathy for Emma and what happened.
Emma is amazing. Emma could have understandably went on the show with a great deal of anger, calling for a breed ban. People would have undoubtedly listened. And who could argue? But Emma didn’t. Emma is calling for changes in legislation that don’t target breed but targets the things that will actually make a difference to dog ownership in the UK. A positive difference.
Emma is part of the APDAWG. She is a Guest Speaker this year, on Tuesday 6th June, at the Parliamentary working group. Emma and I are aligned in our thoughts about what needs to be changed. To go through what Emma has, and come out the other side with such a proactive and positive attitude towards making a change, making a difference, for the greater good of everyone is absolutely inspiring, awesome and simply amazing. For me, it was a privilege to be on the show with Emma.
So, I presented my expert opinion with Nicky Campbell. For me, legislation change is only part of the solution, and it could have a chance to work if it can be enforced. I believe effective Dog Licensing should be introduced. It needs to be done carefully and with consideration for all parts of society.
There is the potential to support funding (through a potential Licence fee) and training of additional Dog Wardens to support Breeding for Health & Temperament and to ensure Breeders put Dogs in suitable homes. Good Breeders do all of this but bad Breeders, simply put, don’t. We also need to ensure that when Dogs arrive in those homes the new Owners are responsible Dog Owners. There’s ways we can do this including mandatory training. There’s a lot more to this than I can write in this single paragraph, but that’s for other articles in the future.
LBC saw me on the Radio (there’s something I wouldn’t have said a couple of decades ago – being seen on the Radio!). They got in touch to say Nick Ferrari regularly covers Dog related issues and could I come on. Again, to my amazement, I said “yes, okay”!
One week on and I find myself on LBC with Nick Ferrari. There had been a horrific incident at the weekend in London, where two beautiful Dogs had been shot dead by an Armed Police Officer. It was all caught on video by a resident of the flats overlooking the place where it happened. I would encourage you to NOT watch the video. It’s extremely upsetting and I found myself with the odd tear rolling down my cheeks as I put myself through the pain of watching the video footage a number of times in preparation for the show. I love Dogs and to see them shot dead has put images in my head that I will likely never forget even though I want to.
There’s lot of speculation about what happened. I saw there was a Vigil in memory of the Dogs in London, held where it happened. There’s an online petition to hold the Officers involved to account. And, there’s outrage on Social Media, directed towards the Officers.
I’ve heard that the Dogs had attacked a Woman shortly before. This is confirmed in the statement by the Met Police. I’ve heard that the owner was banned from owning Dogs. There’s footage online of the Owner with the Dogs on The Underground cuddling in to the Owner. We don’t know what is true and what isn’t and we certainly don’t have all the facts. As our emotions rise when we watch the footage, we must allow the appropriate investigations to take their course so that they are completed properly by the Police. I don’t disagree with putting some pressure on to ensure the right outcomes, but I also believe that that should not overwhelm the investigations taking place.
I offered my Expert opinion on the Nick Ferrari show. I could only comment on the Video in relation to what I saw with the Dogs and their behaviours. Please skip by reading this paragraph if you’d rather not know some details of what happened.
With the first Dog, the owner goaded the Dog, jerking it back several times and released it to lunge at the Officer. This was an extremely irresponsible act by the owner to do this, with his Dog, to anyone, Police Officer or not, and he endangered that Officer. The Armed Officer had no choice but to shoot. The second Dog was successfully detained using a Catch Pole. As this happened several Officers were apprehending and detaining the Owner, who had been Tasered.
The second Dog escaped the catch pole (the catch pole appears to fail?) and ran towards the Owner. In this situation the Dog’s instincts would likely have kicked in to defend its owner from the perceived attack (by the Officers). The armed officer had no choice, he had to stop the Dog.
Questions must still be asked. Why was there only one catch pole for two Dogs? I don’t know what the Met Police’s operating procedures are but surely you would need two catch poles for each Dog? Why was there not? Whilst the Armed Officer had no choice in those tiny moments of time, could the Officers have had better equipment and the right amount of equipment to protect both themselves and the public?
These shows, and the subjects covered, are highly emotive. They were difficult to be on, but I do hope that, on both occasions, in completely different ways, my tuppence worth has given a valued and balanced contribution that leads to better dog ownership in society in the long term.
Nick specialises in Loose Leash Walking and Reactivity as well as everything you would expect from a great Dog Trainer. You can find out more here: eskvalleydogtraining.co.ukTweet Share on Facebook