Handler held over circus dogs' attack...

Handler held over circus dogs' attack on family

There are 1 comment on the Times Online story from Dec 15, 2008, titled Handler held over circus dogs' attack on family. In it, Times Online reports that:

A British circus dog handler has been arrested in northern France after his dogs escaped and attacked a family, injuring a seven-year-old boy.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Times Online.

Circus lover

Melbourne, Australia

#1 Jan 31, 2009
Typical French bastardry
I have just read the French authorities have ordered the confiscation of the dogs for euthanasia.
By confiscating the dogs the French police have effectively made their trainer unemployed in a foreign country.
Obviously the trainer would have desperately wanted to get his dogs back to the circus before they became too stressed out for the evening’s performance.
It was not the trainer’s fault that the service door, through which the dogs escaped, had been left open.
Remember that the dogs are the trainer’s livelihood. He probably has invested money, time, and blood sweat and tears in their training. A injured or sick (or even out of shape) animal can't perform and is a pain and a huge expense to take care of for the trainer.
You can see in the photo published in the French newspaper, Le Courrier Picard, from the way the German shepherd is hunched up that he is extremely distressed and frightened,(even though the Groenendaels (Belgian Shepherds) are standing calmly). The German shepherd, especially, needs to get back into his more comfortable and predictable circus cage environment where he will feel secure.
A circus dog already needs to cope with the stress of appearing in the arena, either for training, or during show time under the glare of the lights and the cacophony of the audience's applause, cheers and whistles.
Any added stress could result in the animal not performing up to standard, then the audience would be dissatisfied. The circus’s reputation is at stake, which adds pressure on the trainer.
Unlike a dog in an obedience trial, where mistakes are accepted, a circus dog needs to perform flawlessly. Consequently it must know of no other existence outside it’s crate other than its routine in the ring. Its routine must be the be all and end all of its existence.
As a result, you can't let them out, apart from exercise visits to the circus’s turn-out pen,- to a circus dog it would be a most frightening, terrible experience, as displayed by the German shepherd in the photograph.
In my opinion, a far better outcome would have been the return of the dogs to the trainer on the condition that they would be muzzled whenever they were out of their crates or cage, i.e. in the turn-out pen or the ring. At least that would have allowed the act to go ahead and the trainer to have a job. After all, it is not uncommon to muzzle performing liberty horses, especially stallions, and performing bears are almost always muzzled. So I see nothing wrong with a dog performing in a comfortable basket-style muzzle.

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