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Northern Ireland Makes Us Look Good

I have been known to criticize the US for, well, lots of uses and abuses (that’s for all of you from yesterday!) of animals and the way we talk about them. And China and Spain have certainly been the target of my ire. But now it’s Northern Ireland’s turn. In GAA Star Fined for Dangerous Dog, one Gerard Cavlan, a football star (GAA football is a mixture of soccer and rugby, I just learned), pleaded guilty (and was fined) to possession of a terrier-type dog (the actual dog is in the photo). He was also banned from owning such a dog for five years.

Let’s deconstruct this unbelievable story, line-by-line:

  • " . . . officials seized the animal, which had a number of scars, after they spotted it with the footballer." So far, Calvan is in trouble because he is with a dog who has scars. My darling Charles is loaded with scars. I wonder if he’s at risk of being seized?
  • "Magistrate Eamon King urged Cavlan to remember his position as a role model. ‘You have to be aware that people do look up to you and people do tend to emulate you and want to emulate you,’ he said. ‘We want people to imitate you in all that’s good – i.e. your successful footballing career – not in the type of activity that takes place in back yards in the dark of night involving one animal going face-to-face against another.’" The magistrate’s intentions appear good, although his conclusion is definitely a bit shaky. (That Cavlan makes his dog fight. Maybe the dog’s a rescue? Maybe he doesn’t even belong to Cavlan?)
  • "Cavlan admitted five offences involving possession of a pit bull, taking it out in public without a muzzle and having no licence for three other Staffordshire terriers." Possession of a pit bull is a crime in Northern Ireland. There are a handful of breeds labeled "Dangerous" by law in the UK and surrounding areas, and their ownership is highly regulated and breeding them is illegal (and I’m pretty sure that the law isn’t working).  A man in the UK was recently jailed and also found guilty of "causing unnecessary suffering" to 3 of the 11 pit bulls he was fighting in his house. You know, that’s opposed to the necessary suffering he must cause them.)
  • "The magistrate ordered the pit bull to be destroyed." What about the people who made him vicious, if indeed he is vicious?
  • The real story then comes out, where Cavlan was walking the dog from a kennel to his owner, and that’s when he was "caught."
  • "This favour which he did for another person has landed him in a very unfortunate and very sorry situation. He was doing somebody a good turn and he’s paying a very heavy price for it." HE is paying a heavy price? Who’s the party ordered destroyed by magistrate? Not Cavlan.
  • "The message has to go out – in this day and age there is no place in this society for animals of this nature," the magistrate said. "They are certainly not pets. They get off the leash, one or two dogs, and if they get a child, God knows (what could happen)." A senior official from the local authority, which prosecuted the case, warned they would hunt out those who keep pit bulls.

What I find so unbelievable, is that there is no mention that pit bulls are made vicious by despicable people. It’s as if the dogs are inherently murderous criminals and must be killed on sight. The magistrate said "animals of this nature," however it is not the nature of that animal to . . . "God knows." The Dangerous Dog Act and laws like it demonize breeds, when it’s the "trainers" (and breeders) who are the real criminals.

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. I'm glad you included "breeders" in your last sentence. I'm all for breed bans (but of course I'm also all for a ban of any kind of breeding of non-humans by humans), BUT, any breed ban should have a safeguard clause that no dog is killed.

    Like you say, this case is a case of grave injustice. Pit-bulls should NEVER be killed. In most countries (though regrettably not the US), we do not even kill serial murderers…and then we kill innocent dogs!

    April 24, 2007
  2. Mike Grieco #

    People are at "fault",the sad truth isn't it? I'm grateful for the humans who "fight the good fight" and educate others on "animal abuse".
    You would think the magistrate was educated in this regard(instead of making a 17th century judgment call).
    I rescued Luna(part staffordshire),she has been in my life for five and one half years and is a very happy,friendly darling.
    Others have many times said she would be otherwise!I estimate Luna is about 7yr's young and getting more friendly with other dogs and humans.

    Good stuff Mary.


    April 25, 2007
  3. It seems likely that the way pets will be phased out is breed by breed; after all, that is how they've been (and are still being) phased in. Presumably we'd see a phase-out of those with the most severe inbred diseases and deformities, although such breeds are but examples of what is permitted to us once we accept domestication, so the ultimate goal would be stopping all of this breeding of animals as pets.

    And we'd see municipalities zoning animal breeders and animal vendors out of their areas. Surely this is going to have to be moved into the sphere of serious discussion if we are going to stop the killings of cats and dogs and other animals bred as pets.

    The above proposals have to do with respect. When specific kinds of dogs are identified and the ones already living are outlawed and killed, it's obvious that the point — respect — is being missed. And this goes in the wrong direction.

    Within these pets are the trapped souls of wildcats and wolves. It is well past time for humanity to stop domineering everyone else on the face of the earth.

    April 25, 2007
  4. Anonymous #

    Check out the legislation before you make comments on judicial decisions – there is a statutory obligation to destroy the dog unless there is a very good case made that the animal will be of no harm to the public. Furthermore, the decision was made following the spate of attacks by these types of dogs on other animals and people, which if you had done any research you would have discovered has resulted in fatalities in this part of the world including a number of children. Yes, so using your typically superior american intelligence, we should of course release dogs back into the public domain to kill and maim.

    April 25, 2007
  5. This is a reply to the anonymous person who posted above.

    Anonymous said "Check out the legislation before you make comments on judicial decisions – there is a statutory obligation to destroy the dog unless there is a very good case made that the animal will be of no harm to the public".

    Precisely. An animal sanctuary would have been enough. There was no need to murder the dog who did not even attack anyone. And even if he did, again, an animal sanctuary would have been sufficient.

    Anonymous wrote: "Furthermore, the decision was made following the spate of attacks by these types of dogs on other animals and people, which if you had done any research you would have discovered has resulted in fatalities in this part of the world including a number of children".

    Irrelevant. It was not this particular dog who attacked children. What if there was a spate of attacks on children by Chinese people (for instance), would we start killing all Chinese people?

    Anonymous wrote: "Yes, so using your typically superior american intelligence, we should of course release dogs back into the public domain to kill and maim".

    No, we should keep real dangerous dogs in sanctuaries while we let all other dogs under the care and responsibility of their "owners".

    As for your comment on Mary Martin, first of all, she didn't claim any superior intelligence. Secondly, it is easy to criticize and call names when you post as anonymous. We don't bite.

    Kenneth Cassar from Malta.

    April 25, 2007
  6. On second thoughts, I shouldn't have used a hypothetical example. Aren't the IRA Irish? By the anonymous person's logic, we may start killing all Irish people.

    April 25, 2007
  7. Anonymous #

    Kenneth – Irish people live in the Republic of Ireland – British citizens live in Northern Ireland – in any case we are talking about animals here, not politics or xenophobia.Your argument about killing Irish/ Chinese is niave – look at the number of citizens killed during wars to see that humans kill whoever they want when they want. What we are talking about here is a particular type of dog used for illegal purposes and with a history of violence, similar to those who join an illegal terrorist group – by your logic IRA killers should then be allowed to go to some sort of sanctuary when caught and identified for what they are. My argument is that it is not all dogs that should be destroyed, only those which the elected government here decided were not only a danger to other animals, but people as well and were often used in other anti social activities and have recently been responsible for a number of attacks and deaths, including that of a child. You try explaining to a parent why a dog that savaged their child to death should remain in the care of a sanctuary. In any case, dogs of all breeds are ordered for destruction week in and week out within this jurisdiction if they have been 'found guilty' of attacking person/ livestock and there is no possibility of it no longer being a danger to the public.
    Judges can only act within the constraints of this law – it is not judges or official who should be criticised therefore. Legislation is not made up as some sort of joke or to particulary victimise or discriminate against a particular group of people, but to serve some sort of public service. To keep a dog like that locked up for the rest of its life would have been tantamount to cruelty in itself – this dog was specially bred, trained and drugged to be a killer, and to fight to its last breath. It is it's instinct to attack other animals – are you volunteering to take it for walkies in the presence of any other creature, whilst it slowly becomes mentally unstable due to institutionalisation? The judge acted within the law, his decision reflects the majority public opinion and people and a large number of other animals are safer without this dog in circulation.

    Let's deconstruct the 'deconstruction':
    1. Mr Cavlan was not in trouble for having a dog with scars – he was in trouble for possessing something illegal.
    2. The dog was definitely not a rescue – not many rescue dogs are transported from one country to another with all valid papers for importation.Further, Cavlan's intentions for the dog were not an issue for the court – it was a matter of whether it was in his possession – just as drug dealers are caught in possession, without maybe owning what they sell.
    3. The fact that people are being prosecuted proves the law is working – all laws are broken to an extent – it is the enforcement of them that makes them successful. 'Unnecessary suffering" is simply that – it is a description that states that all suffering is unnecessary – it could easily also be described necessary suffering since it was necessary to cause suffering to make the dogs fight.
    4. The dog is vicious – how many 'nice' dogs do you know that have that amount of scarring – where did the scars come from if not invovled in some sort of fighting. The dog was bred to be vicious – it is inherently vicious, albeit this viciousness is increased by training.
    5. Mr Cavlan was not walking the dog from its kennel to the owner – the alleged owner lives in Dublin – that's a long walk from where it was seized – check out a map.
    6. He is paying a heavy price – fines, reputation, banned from dogs – as for the fate of the dog – see above in relation to the law.
    7. These types of dogs are vicious by their nature – they have a mind set to attack and to protect their owners by attacking – some dogs are by their nature better at some tasks than others, sheep dogs, gun dogs, police dogs, guide dogs etc – the dog must have a sense of what it is doing and must agree to it, or sign up to it by agreeing to act the way it does – why else do they sit, lie down, heel – cats don't do this. This particular type of dog is strong and aggressive, proud and domineering of other animals – what do you think it would be most suited for? Cuddling up to on the couch?

    April 26, 2007
  8. Seamus O'Donnaghie #

    Just so you know – GAA football is not soccer or anything like it – that's like saying basketball is the same as football!! Cavlan is one of the worst players in the game anyway – its a pity he didn't get locked up and the key thrown away since he was stupid enough to get caught – hope the owner gives him what he deserves since the courts didn't seem to

    April 26, 2007
  9. Thanks, Seamus. I just looked it up (it's a mixture of soccer and rugby) and changed the original post. And just so you don't think it's a cultural thing, my husband is constantly embarrassed by my lack of knowledge regarding any and all sports.

    April 26, 2007
  10. To Anonymous:

    You wrote: "Kenneth – Irish people live in the Republic of Ireland – British citizens live in Northern Ireland – in any case we are talking about animals here, not politics or xenophobia".

    Irish people are Irish people to me. If people want to make distinctions before Northern and Southern Ireland (because of religion or whatever), it makes no difference to me. We're all human. As for talking about "animals, not politics of xenophobia", good thing you brought that up. Humans are animals. Xenophobia is no different from speciesism.

    My whole point is that just because some pits "might" kill people does not mean we should kill all pits, just as because some Irish (Northern/Southern or whatever) kill people does not mean we should kill all Northern and/or Southern Irish.

    Speciesism = Xenophobia = Racism = Sexism

    I rest my case.

    April 26, 2007
  11. By the way, pit bulls did not choose to become vicious, unlike IRA terrorists. So no, IRA terrorists should not go to sanctuaries, but pit bulls, yes. There is a difference.

    But of course, to Anonymous, pit bulls are "just" animal. They do not matter, and can be disposed of when we see fit.

    April 26, 2007
  12. Mike Grieco #

    Let's all be Nice! "KILL" the "CRISIS"…NOT the animal!
    Let's put a BAN on ALL breeding,for the sake of all animals, thank you all…Peace & Health


    April 26, 2007
  13. Seamus O'Donnaghie #

    Kenneth – of course we can dispose of animals when we see fit – that is our god given right (see Bible) and of course every time we have a burger we condone the slaughter of beasts for our own needs. It's only a dog – get over it – and look at the big picture – what is more important than upholding the law in western society. As for your continued ignorance re Ireland – please be aware that religion has nothing to do with what nationality you are – Northern Ireland is it's own distinct country with an elected Assembly that swears allegience to the United Kingdom – do you decribe your self as Maltese or Spanish? Does someone from Mexico describe themselves as American because they live in the Americas? Or do you describe yourself as a monkey because we are all primates, after all?

    April 27, 2007
  14. Seamus O'Donnaghie #

    MARY – YOU ARE HOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 27, 2007
  15. Seamus O'Donnaghie #

    Whoa – you are right Seamus – Mary, your husband is a lucky man!! Any where we can see some more pictures??

    Oh and Kenneth – xenohobia is an irrational fear over which you have little or no control, racism is about hatred for a 'reason' and includes both sexes so how is that equal to sexism when you hate both men and women?

    April 27, 2007
  16. You're right Seamus. I used the term Xenophobia for want of a better word. I meant discrimination on the basis of a human's being different (but not because of race).

    As for the rest, oh yes, you are so right. We may even torture non-human animals. After all, the Bible says so. But here is also a list he should do:

    1. Kill gays. The Bible says so.
    2. Kill adulterers. The Bible says so.
    3. Kill blasphemers. The Bible says so.
    4. Give your dauther up for prostitution. The Bible says so.
    5. Need I say more?

    And don't tell me that that's in the Old Testament. First of all, it is in the Old Testament that we are told that "animals" were created for our use. Secondly, an all knowing infallible God does not change his mind.

    And if you think I'm lying, read the Bible for a change.

    But of course, what really matters is what names we call ourselves, isn't it?

    I think it's best to ignore religious fundamentalists. So this is my last reply to you.

    April 28, 2007
  17. Seamus O'Donnaghie #

    Dear Kenneth. If we are going by what the bible says then you are obviously a non believer therefore it would be my right to kill you too, going by what the Old Testament teaches. I worry that your love of animals has gone a bit too far, and that too would be a abomination – but I suppose if you are lonely enough and have no one to talk to other than through a keyboard,then those lonely nights would be nicely filled with a dog (pit bull preferrably) nibbling on your ear. In conclusion, I don't particularly discriminate on grounds of nationality or religion – wankers like you are still wankers, wherever they are from or whatever they worship – don't forget Kenneth that it's people who look after YOUR rights, not animals.

    May 3, 2007
  18. Cláudio Godoy #


    Whether you like or dislike nonhuman animals is irrelevant to granting rights to them. It’s a matter of justice, because they are not different from us as far their interest to continuing life and not wanting to suffer is concerned. Whether you are able to know what a right is, to formulate a right or to look after other people rights or not able to do that is also irrelevant, because if it were different small children and deeply mentally handicapped humans would have no rights at all. And last but not least, whether a nonhuman animal rights advocate is a wanker or not is beside of the point, because it says nothing about whether his message is right or wrong.

    May 4, 2007

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