On the day that Beverley Concannon, owner of the four dogs that killed 14 year old Jade Anderson back in March, is sentenced for animal cruelty, it has emerged that one of the dogs responsible for the girl’s death was often confined in a crate no larger than itself. According to the BBC website, the dog was neither walked nor trained.
The dog in question, known as ‘Buddy’, is described in some articles as being an American Bulldog, and as a Bullmastiff in others. From the photographs published, showing a tall, white dog, it is clear that Buddy was not a Bullmastiff. The photographs published of Concannon’s dogs show an obvious contrast between Buddy and Neo, the Bullmastiff also said to be involved in the incident. Unfortunately it is seems as if the press prefer to use a recognisable breed name as opposed to an accurate description that would appear to be some sort of American Bulldog crossbreed. A quote from Concannon, allegedly regarding Bullmastiffs, was included in a Daily Mail article; “A growl from a Bully is a warning not to go near them”. This is also true for Yorkshire Terriers, Red Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies and Chihuahuas. A growl from any dog means the same thing; unlike us with our complex vocabulary, dogs all speak the same language. I hope, but very much doubt, that this bizarre quote was included to demonstrate Concannon’s incompetence and not to demonise the Bullmastiff breed.
All dogs require a sufficient amount of daily exercise and stimulation to avoid behavioural issues, and a dog kept in a small terraced house, crated for hours on end and deprived of human attention is a recipe for disaster, regardless of breed. Add three other ‘stir crazy’ dogs, the presence of food and a lack of training into the equation and it is little wonder that a tragedy occurred. According to Stanley Coren, the American bestselling dog book author, 88.8 percent of dogs that bite have never received any obedience training. This would explain why the majority of dogs that are involved in biting incidents and fatalities are not owned by your average responsible owner.
Indeed, Beverley Concannon does not appear to be anything resembling responsible. According to reports, she had been breeding and selling dogs from her own home for the past two years, posting photographs of a litter of Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppies on her Facebook profile last year. A man who reportedly had a mutual friend with Concannon is quoted as saying that he “could have bought a Staffie off her for fifty quid”. Presumably she wasn’t breeding with good temperament in mind. If Concannon really loved her ‘bully breeds’ then she would not be adding to the rising number of unwanted Staffies in rehoming centres throughout the country. Clearly, however, she was not concerned about the welfare of her dogs, which is why she today received a 16-week suspended sentence for causing animal suffering, alongside an indefinite ban from keeping dogs.
The case is a very real and shocking example of “blame the owner not the dogs”. The sentence given is unlikely to be of great comfort for Jade Anderson’s parents, who have lost their daughter as the result of a far wider picture than a horrific dog attack.