New laws could put leash on dog owners
EVERY time a dog savages a human being, pooch lovers leap up with the Pavlovian response: It's not the dog's fault, it's the owner's.
Well now they have an opportunity to show that they mean what they say.
The Government is consulting on changes to the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act which would put the responsibility on human shoulders.
Sixteen people have been killed by dangerous dogs since 2005, and every year dogs are responsible for an estimated 210,000 attacks which see 6,000 people hospitalised.
About 10 guide dogs a month are attacked by other dogs, leaving their owners bereft.
And yet the maximum prison sentence is just two years – and bizarrely it isn't even illegal if the dog is on private property.
Under the new proposals the owners of dogs which kill humans could face sentences up to and including life in prison.
We wouldn't want to see an ageing granny banged up because her poodle nipped a passerby. But a yob who uses a Staffie as a "status dog", to terrorise – should that be terrierise? – the neighbourhood shouldn't be surprised to find himself clapped in irons.
I recently witnessed one such pairing in Plymouth city centre. Nervous shoppers shrank aside as dog and yob strutted with identical swagger across the piazza, without a lead in sight.
The final insult was when the dog paused to dump its nasty-smelling little gift in the middle of the square.
It would have taken a brave person to have said a word, and I wasn't that hero. Sorry.
But we don't have to be silent any longer. The Dangerous Dogs consultation opened this week and runs until September 1. Have your say at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare/dda_dog-attacks_sentences_survey
SOME Herald readers will surely agree with Godfrey Bloom, the UKIP Member of the European Parliament who wants the Government to stop sending aid to "Bongo Bongo" land, as he called it.
Mr Bloom neatly highlights the problem with so many UKIP policies – they are not very well thought through.
Almost certainly, as he asserts, some of the money is spent on Ray-ban sunglasses and apartments in Paris (or London).
But some will stay in those exotic countries and help the people there to have a decent life.
It is near enough impossible to stop refugees flooding into which ever country they please. Once they are here, we're usually stuck with them – whatever Bongo Bloom might think.
The cost of looking after these impoverished incomers is hundreds of times higher than the aid we send.
If those Third World countries we help manage to keep their people happy and at home, and sell us raw materials and food, then I'd call that a result.
UKIP's policy-in-chief falls at a similar logical hurdle.
Problem: UK has a budget deficit of X.
Observation: UK pays X to the EU.
Solution: Leave the EU and all will be well.
Sadly, it won't. The world is a Bloomin' sight more complicated than our UKIP friend appears to think. Aid and EU membership might have many flaws, but that's a reason to fix them, not ditch them.
THE comic Woody Allen said: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."
Most of us never achieve it at all, unless perhaps you count having kids.
But it turns out that Jane Slavin, council press officer and former Herald reporter, has achieved a rare kind of immortality.
With the craze for tombstoning reaching its summer peak around our shores, I am delighted to learn that it was Ms Slavin herself who first put the word into the public domain – in a Herald article on August 3, 1995.
The Macmillan dictionary almost credits her, saying: "The practice of tombstoning seems to have originated in the UK's West Country, and the expression is still used mainly in British English. Its origins may possibly relate back to 1995 newspaper reports of people jumping off Tombstone Rock near Wembury."
WE MAY or may not be seeing green shoots of recovery in the economy, but there are definite signs of green shoots of recovery in the city centre's appearance.
Two fountains have been turned back on – San Sebastian and Gdynia – to the evident pleasure of shoppers and visitors.
Flower beds are looking better than they have for years.
And have you noticed that highways staff have shamefacedly removed their tacky tarmac repairs to the stone paving in Armada Way Piazza?
I understand the council is planning to buy pressure washers to clean the paving stones (the ones on the Barbican first, please).
Next week James Brent's ambitious £50million scheme to redevelop Higher Home Park goes to the city's planning committee.
All we're waiting for now is some movement on the fate of the Civic Centre – long ago touted as a possible new hotel – and the redevelopment of the Pavilions.
Ever since 2008 I've been hearing politicians say that "Plymouth is open for business". At last there might actually be some truth in it.
Seems to be a good moment for someone to commission a piece of public art to celebrate.
The proposed Michael Foot memorial is too small and too remote at Freedom Park to do much good.
But it's only seven years to the Mayflower celebrations.
If Destination Plymouth gets it right, we will be overrun with Yanks searching for their roots and they will expect to see memorials not only to the Pilgrim Fathers, but to other famous Brits they've actually heard of – Darwin, Scott of the Antarctic, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Dawn French even.