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Two Family Dogs Kill Baby

A 3.5 months old baby was attacked and fatally injured by two dogs, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and a Jack Russell. 


Jaden Joseph Mack was found in the living room of a house in Ystrad Mynach, South Wales by his Grandmother, and was pronounced dead at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr. It echoes the tragedy in September 2006, of five-month-old Cadey-Lee Deacon, who subsequently died of her injuries.  In that case it was Rottweiler’s; once again two dogs were involved.


It is so vitally important we never leave children alone with any dog or leave any access so dogs can get to any small children.  This tragedy, as with Cadey-Lee may have happened because of the whimpering and crying sounds that babies make. This can stimulate the hunting or play instinct of normally placid and gentle dogs  


Their prey or predatory instinct may have then taken over, the sounds stimulating the part of the brain that deals with hunting and chase. They may have considered Cadey-Lee and Jaden an injured animal or even a toy or plaything. In particular two or more dogs may stimulate each other to aggression.


The Jack Russell were initially bred for ratting so any squeaking, snuffling or crying could stimulate natural predatory instincts


It is unusual, but not totally unknown, for a pure bred Staffordshire Bull Terrier to attack a child. Their nickname is “the nanny dog”. In 1835  Bull/Bear baiting and dog-fighting became illegal. Gambling was prolific on these activities. And since the Elizabethan times until banned had been the largest spectator sport in the England.


It was difficult if not impossible to take bull and bear baiting and hold illegal contests. Therefore it was decided to cross the then Bulldogs and cross them with a small aggressive Staffordshire terrier, specifically for illegal dog-fighting. Resulting in today's Staffordshire bull terrier,

Many of the breeders were the poor and impoverished Staffordshire pottery workers, who had large families living in one or two room hovels. They could not keep an aggressive fighting dog that was also aggressive to children or adults. So they killed any that showed that type of aggression. Over the years this removed almost all the inter-human aggressive traits from the breed, hence the name “nanny-dog” Most attacks on humans by so called Staffordshire Bull Terriers are in reality by crosses, generally not pure bred Staffie’s.


Having said that. No child should left with any dog however placid or benign the dog’s l nature. The strange sounds of a young baby and the waving of arms and legs can stimulate deep seated natural instincts, resulting in these types of fatal injuries. Puppy socialisation and ongoing obedience training is a must for all dog,. particularly the 7 to 14 week period in a pups life. This sets the behaviour pattern in the dog for life.


Introducing pups to, other dogs, traffic, household appliances, adults and babies, in a kind unthreatening way, in controlled circumstances is an absolute must.  I cannot stress this enough, ignore this socialisation opportunity at your peril.


The majority of the cases I treat regarding aggression are related to poor socialisation at an early age. Nearly all of these cases are fear or instinct related, rather than a dominance issue. It has been suggested that 80% of all behavioural problems are caused because of the lack of handling, training, and early socialisation, during the early weeks and months of a puppies life. I would not disagree with that proposition.


All dogs can be aggressive, all dogs can cause serious injuries, what we should never do is blame the breed. Punish the deed not the breed, these dogs have paid the ultimate price and were rightfully euthanised. It was the circumstances that lead up to this dreadful event that we should question, not whether breeds should be destroyed because of it.


Stan Rawlinson  MTCBPT.MPAACT