By Jungwan Kim
It all started when a Korean celebrity’s dog escaped, bit a neighbour, and that neighbour died of blood poisoning two days later. Fear of getting attacked by a dog reached its peak and the government had to do something to appease the terrorised crowd.
The solution they came up with is a new law of compulsory muzzle-wearing for dogs in public that are taller than 40cm (15.7in). Let’s take a moment to think about how effective this law will be.
Dogs let out heat by panting-breathing with their tongue out. If they wear a muzzle, it prevents them from panting and leads to serious heat-related issues. From 42 degrees Celsius, a dog can experience heat stroke. Its average body temperature is around 38 degrees. To take Border Collie as an example, the temperature rises up to 40 degrees after 15 minutes of outdoor activity. If we were to use out common sense, dogs out in public are likely to stay out for more than 15 minutes.
Out of minimum 78 breeds with a double coat, two-thirds are taller than 40cm. What does this mean? Two-thirds of the dogs that have a higher chance of dying of heat stroke are forced to wear muzzle out in 35 degrees Celsius. This is similar to legislating a new law on mandatory handcuff with a heater for anyone taller than 170cm, because they might commit a serious crime.
This law is saying that “We will now get animals that look big enough to harm us be handicapped, whether they actually are or not”. The New York Times article on the suspension of law targeting Pitbull for its look reports, “Ms. Devine of the S.P.C.A. said that a dog’s personality depends far more on its upbringing than its breed. It is possible, she added, that ‘because of the demonization attributed to dogs that look a certain way, people are going to be more likely to neglect or be irresponsible for these dogs.’” Dogs’ personality depend on the environment they grew up in, not how big they are, just like we all are.
It is heartbreaking for me to see comments on the incident such as “That dog should be killed right away”, “We need to get rid of those dogs from pubic”. Even though the CCTV footage shows that the owner didn’t even put collar on the dog, the dog is the one getting criticised for. The muzzle on dogs won’t solve any underlying problems. Dogs have to live under constant pressure and label that they are threatening, and this will only trigger more aggressive behaviours .
Is this effective?
- Burke, Anna. “Is a Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human’s Mouth?” American Kennel Club, 20 July 2017, www.akc.org/content/health/articles/is-dogs-mouth-cleaner-than-humans/.
- “What Is a Normal Increase in Body Temp When a Dog Exercises?” BC Boards, 25 Mar. 2010, www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=27920.
- Fortin, Jacey. “Pit Bull Restrictions Lifted in Montreal as New Mayor Makes Good on Pledge.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/12/23/world/americas/pit-bull-ban-montreal.html.