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"Sorry, but I don't want your dog around my children."

Do you trust dogs around your children?

I know he is friendly and “great with kids”.

I know he is “part of the family” and “wouldn’t hurt a fly”.

I can see he is gentle and sweet and has eyes as brown as the chocolate fountain in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

I can see how he whimpers sweetly when you tie him up and sits nicely on command.

I can see this, I can see how you love him, how your children love him, but I’m sorry, I still don’t want him near my children.

Don’t get me wrong I love dogs. They are terrific companions; they love you devotedly and are loyal and trusting. But they could also, at any given time, attack my children without warning.

It’s a tough line to take among friends and one that often causes tension.

Friends who want to bring their dogs to parties in parks, to kids' sporting matches, to the school playground.

I am sorry to say that your dog does look scary to children. Your dog is large and stocky and strong. When he jumps at a child they shriek with fear and this seems to only excite him more so he jumps more and they shriek more.

I’ve seen dog owners berate parents whose children have approached their on-leash dog. “Teach your child to ask before they approach a dog,” they say. The dog owners are right. We should teach our children to ask, but you, as a dog owner should also be aware that children don’t always listen or obey and it is your responsibility to make sure your dog isn’t near my child.

Dog owners of breeds like yours talk about a form of discrimination that occurs, of being singled out for having a “dangerous breed”.

They can recite statistics about small dog bites and quote experts about breed specific legislation not working. They can defend each dog’s breed over and over again but you won’t change my mind.

I don’t want your dog around my children.

Do you trust dogs with small children?

It isn’t just you. I own two dogs myself. My kids are devoted to them and treat them like members of the family. Ours are those breeds that you see everywhere these days, the soft fluffy ones, with an “oodle” attached to its name. My daughter tries to dress them up in dolls clothes and to get them into her pram. Her brothers cuddle them and pamper them and kiss them each day.

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But you know what, I don’t trust my dogs with my children either.

Every year in Australia there are dog attacks that are fatal.

In 2013 a two-year old boy was killed by a bullmastiff cross in the NSW country town of Deniliquin.

A year prior a four-year old girl was killed by a pit bull cross in Melbourne. In fact, since 1979 there have been at least 33 dog attack deaths in Australia.

An American pit bull

But more common than that are the dog attacks that are disfiguring, life changing, tragic.

Only a few months ago we heard about a five-year old girl attacked by a pitbull-cross just days before she was due to start school. Alexis Douglas was attacked by a pitbull cross - she is now scarred for life. She is lucky to be alive.

Alexis Douglas was attacked by a Pitbull cross in January this year.

For those who wish to defend their dogs you have your right to your opinion.

You can make claims like “there are no such things as dangerous dogs, it’s the owners".

Claims like “any dog can be trained to behave properly". That “dogs don’t bite for no reason".

But there are facts that we know. Four in five dog attacks on children occur in the family home and 78% of dog-attack victims are members of the family or a family friend.

Your dog may be loving and gentle and sweet. He may be docile and loving.

But he is also a dog – an animal – a potentially dangerous animal. And I am sorry but I don’t want him around my children.

How do you feel about having dogs around your children?

Want more? Try:

I like my dogs more than my children.

To my Mother-in-law I am sorry I had it all wrong.

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