It's time for a dog buyback scheme. Because this child should never have died.

Deeon Higgins






Last week 2-year-old Deeon Higgins was attacked and killed by the family dog; a bull mastiff cross.

Deeon’s grandmother spent 15 desperate minutes trying to pry the curly haired toddler from the dog’s jaws.

She eventually collapsed, exhausted and unable to overcome the 57 kilogram dog’s strength. Deeon died later that day in hospital, from severe injuries to his face and head.

This story is a tragedy and no one should ever have to die that way; let alone a two-year-old boy. A little boy who just went into the backyard to get an ice-block. A child who had no chance up against such a huge and vicious animal.

And now the community is angry. We’ve heard too many stories like this one. We’re sick and tired of people defending their right to have a vicious and potentially deadly animal, housed in the back yard with only a low fence to separate it from the community.

Surely when an innocent child has been mauled to death, “But I love my dog,” doesn’t really cut it anymore.

In her Daily Telegraph column today, Miranda Devine is calling for Australia to embrace a dog buyback scheme, “similar to John Howard’s gun buyback.” Back in 1996 following the tragedy of the Port Arthur massacre, then Prime Minister John Howard implemented a scheme where the Government bought back thousands of legally and privately owned guns from the Australian public.


Remarkably, Australia has not experienced a gun massacre since then.

A bull mastiff cross

Devine thinks that a similar scheme could be the solution to force owners of dangerous breeds, to finally give up their household pets to be euthanised, in exchange for money.

“There can be an amnesty of a few weeks before the owner of every pit bull, or similar vicious breed, is required to relinquish their dogs to the local council,” Devine said.

“They can then choose a safer breed from the tens of thousands waiting for a new home in pounds and animal shelters.”

“The owner can be re-compensated by the taxpayer for the small costs incurred. The dangerous breed is then humanely put to sleep, while a dog on death row is saved.”

Devine’s proposal is that where owners refuse to voluntarily give up their dangerous breeds, then they should face a criminal charge of manslaughter if their animal kills a person.

Yes, it seems drastic but when another child is dead – maybe drastic is necessary.

Ayen Chol, 4, was killed by a pitbull cross in 2011.

Ruby-Lea Bourke, 3, was killed by four bull mastiff crosses in 2009.

Kate Morey, 2 weeks old, was killed by a Siberian Husky in 2007.

How many more children have to die before we decide ‘drastic’ is exactly what we need?

Of course, when it comes to beloved family pets, emotional ties between owner and animal mean that it’s an entirely different concept to giving up a gun. A living, breathing animal is not a machine. Cash may not be enough to prompt owners to willingly relinquish their beloved dog, knowing that it will mean the end of their pet’s life.


Unsurprisingly, already twitter is firing up about the possibility of a buyback scheme:


Pets are often considered part of the family. Cash isn’t something a lot of people would readily except for euthanising their best friend. But when your best friend is capable of mauling a two-year-old to death, don’t we have to draw the line somewhere?

Please, share this post with your friends, because this is a conversation we need to be having. We cannot let this happen to another innocent child.

Do you think people should be allowed to keep dangerous dog breeds as pets? Do you think Australians would part with their dogs in exchange for cash? Should owners be held criminally responsible for the actions of their animals?