Real life

Why won't the law go after the terror of my park?

I suppose it's far easier to pick on less intimidating dog-owners

1 November 2014

9:00 AM

1 November 2014

9:00 AM

What is the point of the Dangerous Dogs Act when there is a man marauding with an illegal pit bull in south London and the police are not arresting him? My friend rang me in hysterics recently after the beast all but savaged his little Patterdale terrier in Kennington Park.

The pit bull picked him up in his mouth and started shaking him. When my friend slapped the pit bull with his umbrella, it let go of his dog, ran over to an old man, grabbed his Shitzu and shook that like a rag doll until it was pouring with blood. The old man fell over as he tried to save his dog and the pit bull owner screamed at him as he lay in the mud. My friend called the police, the guy grabbed his dangerous dog and ran off.

When my friend next spotted them in the park he called the police again. They came out and questioned him, but he told them his dog was a Staffie cross Labrador and they let him go. My friend demanded the police investigate further to establish the breed.

They have his address but, so far as my friend has been able to ascertain from them, have not been round to his house to conduct any checks. Of course they haven’t. They would much rather go round to some nice middle-class person’s house and slap a destruction order on their Jack Russell.

The builder boyfriend’s poor old dad had his little dog put down a few years ago because the kids next door taunted it so much it jumped up on one of them. It didn’t bite, scratch or injure them in any way. But the family reported it as an ‘attack’ and the dog was duly declared dangerous and taken to the vets to be euthanised.

But of course, the builder boyfriend’s dad didn’t live on a no-go sink estate or belong to a terrifying gang. Therein lay his error, you see. He was a sitting, law-abiding duck.

A gangsta with a pit bull can strut about perfectly at ease, perhaps because he feels that so long as he looks as tough and as dangerous as his dog, he will never be confronted by the short and delicate arm of the law.

Imagine my consternation, therefore, when I saw the pair on Tooting Common when I was walking the spaniel.


It was 6 p.m. and dusk was falling as the man and his pure white pit bull made repeated circuits of the Common. The man kept talking to the dog, commanding him to do things, like jump up in the air, or lie low on the ground.

I told another dog walker: ‘That’s an illegal breed. Do you think we should call it in?’

‘Ooo, you’d never know it, would you dear?’ said the woman, who was walking two West Highland terriers. ‘He’s such an obedient dog. Look at him leaping to attention when the man raises his hand.’

I decided to call 101. ‘Hello, this is Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe,’ said the cheery recorded message that greets you when you call the police nowadays. ‘If your call is important please hang up…’ That’s unusually honest, I thought. ‘…and dial 999.’ Oh, I see.

Eventually, a lady answered and I told her: ‘There’s an illegal pit bull on Tooting Common.’ And thus began the process of trying to explain to the Metropolitan Police where Tooting Common is.

‘Is it in Tooting?’ she said. ‘No, not Tooting itself. Tooting Common.’

‘What’s the postcode?’

‘Well, I don’t know the postcode. You see, it’s not a building. It’s the Common.’

‘What street is it in?’ ‘He’s not in a street. He’s on the Common.’ Silence.

‘It’s a large expanse of green space between Balham and Tooting, bordering Streatham on one side.’ ‘Hang on,’ she said, ‘I have it on my screen now. Yes, I see. So, which part?’

I looked around. The man was starting another circuit. At this rate, he was going to walk past me and hear me on the phone to the cops reporting him and then he would beat me to a pulp as the police operator droned: ‘When you say “Aaaaaaargh he’s murdering me”, who exactly are you referring to? What’s his postcode?’

‘Look,’ I said, ‘can you see a play area on the map?’

‘Ye-es.’ ‘Well, that expanse of green to the left is where he is.’ ‘So he’s inside the play area?’ she said, sounding concerned for the first time.

‘No! He’s on the area of common land to the left of it, or right, depending on which way you are looking at the map.’ Upside down, probably. ‘Can I go now, please?’

It would have been less painful to let the pit bull savage me.

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  • Hippograd

    The article mentions the colour of the dog but not of the man, so I assume this is another example of the enrichment-by-immigration that the modern Tory party celebrates. How lucky we are that the racist bilge referred to by the brilliant Matthew Parris has never stopped immigration from such centres of vibrancy as Jamaica, Somalia and Pakistan. Life would be so much less interesting in 21st-century Britain.

    • Zanderz

      Around here it’s the emasculated white working class that feel the need to buy their masculinity with these dogs. I’ve yet to see any Pakistanis / Muslims with them, probably due to dogs so called ‘unclean’ status.

      At our park they make them chew the rubber swings and let them cr@p where ever they like – no picking up of course. Part of me wishes the police could just shoot them on sight.

      • CO Jones

        When you say “shoot them on sight” do you mean the dogs or the owners or both? I would go for both.

  • Julieveggie

    Pit-bull Rescue Central, the leading authority of pit bull types admits MOST pit-bull types are not safe around other dogs. For that reason alone is why I do not consider them safe family pets for our neighborhoods. These are powerful animals that break away from their guardians all the time and maul & kill another beloved pet or person in front of a child or person. This is a typical pit attack on another beloved pet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZTiGWgQubA Children & adults have watched their beloved pets be mauled to death by pit bulls. Many develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching a horrific pit attack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBFb-hGWZqg Breaking-up pit attacks is dangerous 1/3 end up attacking the person that’s breaking up the fight.http://dogbitelaw.com/dangerous-vicious-dogs/a-propensity-to-attack-other-dogs-means-a-dog-is-dangerous-to-people.html

    According to Pit Bull Rescue Central, “It is a FACT that our pit bulls, AmStaffs and pit mixes come with a built-in fighting heritage.It doesn’t matter where we get them from, whether it be the pound, a stray we pick up, or a puppy we buy from a breeder. The majority of pit bulls will, at some point in their lives, exhibit some degree of dog-on-dog aggression. This type of animal aggression is completely separate from human-aggression; a well-socialized pit bull is very good-natured with people.Yet, chances are that a “normal” pit bull will not share his affection with other animals.We cannot predict when or where it will happen and we can’t love, train or socialize it out ofthe dog. Pit bulls may not start fights, but they will finish them.” http://www.pbrc.net/misc/PBRC_dogpark.pdf

    The Pit Bull Rescue Central recommends ALL pit guardians to have a break stick. FOR ME THIS IS ANOTHER RED FLAG! Does not sound like a safe family pet if you need a breakstick on hand. “Since pit bulls have a strong fighting background, we recommend that pet owners also have a breaking stick as a precaution, even if they don’t plan to use it in an illegal context. However, please be discreet. Breaking sticks are not something to brag about and the general pubic might have the wrong impression if you walk around with a stick in your hand. Breaking sticks are not illegal, but they are considered dog fighting paraphernalia in certain states and/or with certain law enforcement agents.” http://www.pbrc.net/breaksticks.html This person demonstrates how to use a break stick on a pit-bulls: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfMVH4wY5Pg

    I appreciate that Pit bull Rescue Central, is telling pit-bull guardians not to take their dog to off-leash parks but many pit guardians are still very ignorant to this recommendation. What is bewildering to me is that Pit Bull Rescue Central admits that other beloved dogs in the community are not safe around pit-bulls because of their genetic makeup but promotes them as a great family pet. For me this is a red flag that you are compromising public safety and the safety of our beloved pets in our communities. Of all the dog breeds, they are the all time number one killer of humans and other people’s beloved pets. http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2014.php Then these pit-bull advocates are oblivious and offended why people do not want these dogs in the neighborhood. REALLY? Are you really that blind? Do I really have to spell it out for you? Many people in the neighborhood have beloved pets that they consider family members. They are concerned for their pet’s safety and they do not want their dog to get mauled to death. Now people in the neighborhood who have pets have to live in fear if this powerful pitbull will get away from the guardian and hurt or kill their beloved pet. Almost all dog guardians have experienced a mishap where their dog gets away from them by mistake.

    Many pit-bull breeders who are breeding for human aggression to create guard dogs. Most pit-bulls types come primarily from unethical backyard breeders who are trying to breed aggression, not good temperaments. Often, their dogs are the product of reject pits purchased from dog fighters as cheap stock. So with the pool of pit bulls we have, you cannot tell the difference between a cold one and one that might snap. (unprovoked aggression). So basically people who have pits are playing Russian Roulette against our communities. Here is a clip of unethical pit-bull breeders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiZOj9o6jpE

  • mhjames

    Thanks for not starting the title of this piece with ‘So’.

  • paulthorgan

    Ms Kite makes a simple mistake here, which is living in Kennington.

  • Foeu

    A pity they don’t put the owners down as well as the dogs.

  • trace9

    Dig a pit & bulldoze them all into it. Owners included.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Dogs like meat. Dangerous dogs like meat also. So take some meat for the Dangerous Dog. Put something nice inside the meat as well.

  • John Galt

    Melissa Kite is my absolute, total, ‘ I swear to God’ hero. I just want to meet her in person and say- thank you. For making me smile all these years. Ms. Kite- if you are reading this, let me know.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Something else to be grateful to Lord Macpherson for, then?

  • Damaris Tighe

    One of the interesting parts of this article is that centralised police switchboards have been removed from the community. Melissa had trouble explaining to an operator, who knew nothing about the locale, where she was. Maybe the operator was in Mumbai?

    And the recorded voice of Hogan-Howe might be construed as good PR, but to me it looks like the usual empty posturing that puts a friendly face on inadequacy.

  • Damaris Tighe

    I once called 999 because a vagrant I’d previously seen alive & apparently well was passed out – or dead – on the pavement. The operator asked me to go up to him & check! Was I supposed to put two fingers on his neck as they do on telly? I wished I’d chosen to be like the other two travellers rather than the good samaritan, & passed by on the other side of the road.

  • John Lea

    Fantastic article. Trying to report an urgent and ongoing crime to the police is like taking the chair in Mastermind. You need to have a very detailed understanding of where the crime is taking place, who the perpetrator(s) are, and some decent general knowledge too (“Did you say the third arsonist on the right was wearing azzure blue Reeboks or navy Nike trainers?”). And at the end of it all, they ay they’ll send someone round, but can’t tell you when, because ‘Friday night is one of our busiest nights, as you can imagine, sir, and we have limited resources, as you are probably aware’, etc etc. Funny how they always have enough resources to chase up online ‘racists’ and give endless press conferences about how their winning some bogus war on terror.

  • Jim

    Unless someone has actually been killed, the police are worse than useless. I’m sure they all ‘have their hands tied’ or something. There’s always an excuse, maybe it’s somebody elses fault that they are in the main, arrogant, lazy, ignorant and often rude.
    Yeah yeah I know, your relative is a copper and you’re really upset by my comment. Unfortunately that has been my experience, and I’ll wager the experience of many others, hence the public having no confidence in them whatsoever.

  • Perseus Slade

    Seem the police prefer to go for the low-hanging fruit:
    weak with the strong and strong with the weak.
    Who can blame them? Just a job.

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