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Brookman: Let’s focus on the primary reason for the fatal dog attack

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It seems impossible to stop thinking about the horrific dog attack that occurred in Calgary a few days ago. Can any of us comprehend how an 86-year-old lady, working in her yard, could be attacked, ravaged and killed by three out-of-control dogs?

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My heart goes out to this family, and we must also think of the first responders who had to assist in what must have surely been a scene from a horror movie.

There is anger at the fact that these dogs were on the loose. They are no different than improperly stored assault weapons, and those dogs should already have been put down. No discussions, no analysis, no compassion for the dogs; they killed someone and that is enough for me.

Listening to people who try to defend vicious breeds is another thing that galls me. The rhetoric goes something like, “It’s not the dog’s fault, it is the owner.” And that cuts must not with me. This is simply a variation of the often heard statements in the United States: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” What rubbish.

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Remember the story of the scorpion who convinces the frog to take him across the river and then bites the frog. As the frog is dying, it asks, “Why?” and the scorpion replies, “It is just in my nature.”

I simply do not understand the desire of some people to own dogs that, even when they are gentle, are threatening in appearance and frightening to others. I would no more let a child play with these dog breeds than I would let a child play with an unloaded gun.

That’s not all. I am very upset with some in the news media, city council or local talk shows who have tried to politicize this awful event. I have heard comments about the Alberta government, the dispatcher, the EMS system and even the person who made the call. There has been more commentary about the time it took the ambulance to arrive than there have been expressions of concern about the victim and her family.

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There has been almost nothing said about the dogs, the dog’s owner or the circumstances that found them loose in the alley. Local politicians commenting on how this was a failure of the EMS system were doing nothing more than electioneering and it was so offensive in the face of such a tragedy.

Is the EMS system stretched? I think we can assume that is the case. I have spoken to heroic EMS workers and I understand that there are issues with recruiting, training and wait times at hospitals. The results of the inquiry will be very important, but for certain individuals to be so eager to find fault with the government that they barely mention the victim simply makes my blood boil. The focus should be on the dogs, the dog owner, what made them so vicious, why they were on the loose and how we prevent such an attack from ever happening again.

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In a city of a million people, tragedy will occur. We are fortunate to have caring and professional people. Surely our goal must be to not simply accept the behaviors that cause tragedy, whether it comes from guns, drinking and driving or vicious dogs. God forbid that any one of us might encounter a pack of dogs, a maniacal shooter or a crazed van driver; but in civil society, it is critical that when we see situations that are threatening, we act to prevent them and we speak up with a strong voice. This is not the time to try to score political points.

George H. Brookman is chairman and company ambassador for WCD Ltd.

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