Last Sunday a three-year-old girl was viciously attacked by a Japanese Akita dog while walking with her mother in County Tyrone.
This follows an attack just two weeks ago on a teenager at a beach in Dundrum by another Akita. Both attacks were unprovoked and resulted in serious injury.
These dogs have become very popular in Northern Ireland over the last few years, as can be witnessed by the number of Akitas for sale on websites like gumtree.com.
In April 2007 a man was attacked by an Akita while out walking his dogs in Carrickfergus and in October 2007 a similar attack happened in south Belfast. These are only the incidents that have been reported by the media.
Just before Christmas last year, two Akitas which were being kept at a neighbour’s house came on to my parents’ property and killed their six-year-old collie dog. Through some miracle, my two-year-old niece was not playing in the garden that day. The consequences don’t even bear thinking about. This incident was not reported by the media, and there are doubtless many similar cases that have not been documented.
While the dog warden was contacted, my parents were told that there was nothing that could be done. It was not a police matter as Akitas are not listed on the dangerous dogs register.
Why is nothing being done about these animals? While I am not claiming that all Akitas are aggressive, they have the potential to inflict serious injury or death.
It seems unbelievable that people should be allowed to own these animals without some form of restriction. Like guns, dogs are only dangerous in the hands of careless or irresponsible owners, but we don’t let just anyone own a gun.