Animal shelter could be more helpful over 'crazy dog'

AFTER reading The Hunts Post articles ( Teenager injured in dog attack and Demand for action after dog attacks , April 9) I find myself asking several questions, including how many of these so-called aggressive dogs have been taken on by well-meaning pe

AFTER reading The Hunts Post articles ("Teenager injured in dog attack" and "Demand for action after dog attacks", April 9) I find myself asking several questions, including how many of these so-called aggressive dogs have been taken on by well-meaning people from a local animal shelter, and how many people know how their own behaviour towards a dog may be interpreted as a threat by that dog?

My reasons for asking these questions are based on my own experience. We took on a year-old collie cross from the local animal shelter near Huntingdon four years ago. We still have her today and, when in the home with her family, she is a loving, happy dog. However she is not the easiest of dogs to control, and, to be frank, the shelter concerned gave us little practical help after we took her on, despite their rigorous checks of our garden before they would let us re-home her.

The very first time we walked her, she became very frightened and as a result was aggressive towards any stranger that approached her. There was no warning in her notes from the shelter that this might happen.

I rang the shelter after this first walk, asking if this was her normal behaviour and whether I should muzzle her. The answer I was given was: don't muzzle her, as this would frighten her further. That was the full extent of the advice we were ever given by the shelter.

Both my husband and I have owned dogs previously from puppyhood, and I have no doubt that, if approached, the shelter concerned would argue that we were experienced dog handlers and didn't need any advice. But the underlying problem here is still the fact that we were given no warning that the dog we had chosen to take on had behavioural problems.

Four years on, and that includes a year of attending weekly sessions with a dog trainer, she is still a nervous animal and will bark viciously if she feels threatened. Aware of this I find myself having to warn any strangers not to look directly at her. Apparently dogs interpret this as an aggressive gesture, even if we do not mean it as such. It never fails to amaze me the number of people who do not believe that my dog has barked at them simply because they looked her in the eye.

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Furthermore, there are children in our village who think it is a great game to make the "crazy dog" at my house bark. They have no idea that what they are doing is teasing and provoking a dog who we suspect ended up at the shelter in the first place after being badly treated by her previous owner.

I cannot even come close to being able to offer an opinion about whether or not the dangerous dog laws need further action based solely on what you have written. Furthermore, I have no doubt that most responsible dog owners will continue to see it as their duty to take responsibility for their dogs. However, I am also worried that your stories will cause an over-reaction.