I was once at a party where a child was attacked by one of the host's two rottweilers. Fortunately, there were many people nearby so the dog's teeth and the child's throat were soon parted and the boy suffered no grievous harm.

The party's host and dog's owner immediately excused herself from the function, took the dog to her vet and had it euthanised. That was the right and in fact the only thing to do.

Dogs are great. They're terrific companions, provide an excellent opportunity to teach children how to relate to animals, and are models of numerous virtues, such as obedience, loyalty and not grizzling if you're stuck outside in the rain.

But they're not people. There are few sights less lovely than a doggie sentimentalist anthropomorphising what is in fact a wild animal, probably made absolutely livid by being treated like a baby.


I don't have to worry about my dog hurting anyone. In her two years with us I've never seen her so much as snarl. She's so aggressive her nickname is David Cunliffe.

But I like to think that if she ever did show signs of aggression I would be responsible enough to have her put down straight away.

Any dog owner - responsible or otherwise - knows that a dog that can cause harm will display the tendency first in minor ways and the time to do something about it is at the first indication.

So it's difficult to comprehend how two dogs could have enjoyed a career in which they had become "well-known for attacking cattle, postmen and passing vehicles" that was only brought to an end when they killed a 31-year-old woman on the North Shore.

I'd wager that in every case where a dog has injured a human there has been a minor incident that pointed the way to a more serious one.

This is the point at which the dog or dogs should be destroyed.

At the moment dog owners' rights trump everyone else's and councils are bound by numerous pernickety laws that prevent them from taking swift and permanent action to deal with a threat.

Calls to ban breeds are probably misguided. It's hard to find good evidence that certain varieties of dog are inherently dangerous.


The most rigorous studies are inconclusive.

What is suggested by the evidence is that some dogs respond better to their owners' encouragement of their violent tendencies. And a lot of people with emotional and psychological problems take pride and pleasure in making their dogs behave aggressively.

Making guilty dogs' owners liable for the same sentence they would incur if they had committed the crimes themselves might encourage more responsible ownership.

At the very least, when it comes to dogs putting humans at risk there should be a one-strike policy.

If we want to use a legal remedy to protect people from dangerous dogs we should forget about banning breeds and deal with the beasts by having them put down at the first sign of trouble.

There is a chance my probably-very-distant-cousin-though-we've-never-met Andrew Little may become leader of the Labour Party.

This would be regrettable as it raises the admittedly remote possibility of having someone called Little as prime minister.

Having spent a life living with the lamest jokes about my surname and having already seen "Little Goes a Long Way" and "Labour contest just got a Little bigger" in connection with the leadership contest, I can tell you this would be most unwise, encouraging bad jokes at the international level. The Australians in particular would be intolerable.

This is a burden that, although it can be endured by individuals, is not one the country as a whole should have to bear.