Chapter 7: Pavlovian Innovation, Pet Solutions and Economizing on Rationality? Politicians and Dangerous Dogs
Christopher Hood and Martin Lodge INTRODUCTION On 29 May 1991, six-year-old Ruckhsana Khan suffered severe chest and head injuries as a result of an unprovoked attack in a public place by an American pit bull terrier (called ‘Dog’), which had broken loose from its 21-year-old and pregnant ‘dog walker’. The attack took place in Manningham, a run-down area of Bradford in the North of England, and it came on the heels of similar dog attacks in Bolton and Lincoln. The result was intense media interest and concern with dog attack dangers (for example, the now-defunct tabloid newspaper Today carried about 40 articles on dangerous dog risks in the subsequent month) and demands for prompt and decisive action from the responsible Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker (see Hood et al. 2001, p. 91). The minister’s first response was to stress the difficulty of crafting effective legislation to deal with the problem, but that response led to vicious media criticism and as a result, legislation intended to curb dangerous dog attacks was rapidly drafted and passed through all its legislative stages with cross-party support and strong backing in opinion polls. The Act (the much discussed Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991) made it a criminal offence to have any dog dangerously out of control in a public place and introduced additional controls that were targeted at the American pit bull terrier plus some other exotic types of fighting dogs (that were mostly either little known or hardly present in the UK). Additional controls included...
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