Friday, March 20, 2009


Now I am going to write about something so horrific and upsetting that I have been avoiding posting on it all week. Nevertheless, I really think I should, as [a] sadly, this has happened very near where I live [b] as far as I can tell, there has been little international coverage although the BBC has this report and [c] the event and reactions following it are indicators of attitudes here and how they are changing.

Here goes: Last Sunday, at the small beach town of Sampieri, a 10-year-old boy from Modica was pulled off his bicycle and killed by a pack of up to 50 wandering dogs. The whole community was plunged into shock and grief and one can only imagine what the boys' parents are going through. 7,000 people attended the funeral on Wednesday afternoon and shops in Modica closed for its duration.

On Tuesday a German woman tourist walking along the same beach was surrounded by the pack, mauled and horrifically injured, despite the brave intervention of passers-by and police. She still lies in a critical condition in a Catania hospital. Poor woman: if you are on holiday and have not read that day's local newspaper or you do not have the language or opportunity to talk to local people, how vulnerable you can be.

The authorities are of course doing everything they can to catch the pack and 30 of the dogs have been rounded up. However, it cannot be denied that stray dogs are a problem in southern Italy as local councils lack the funds needed for proper dog wardens and pounds. The Mayor of Modica ordered the shooting of stray dogs whilst animal protection groups have insisted the dogs be captured and treated humanely. The latter were backed up by the Prefetto of Ragusa who intervened in the situation. Tomorrow in Catania there is to be a demonstration against the killing of strays and this does mark a change in attitudes as more people seem to be aware of animals' rights here than, say, 15 - 20 years ago. At the boy's funeral, though, the priest suggested that humans are turning animals into icons.

As a dog-lover, I am angry, above all with the dogs' "custodian" who is now under arrest. Rumour has it that he took money to "look after" them, starved them and then abandoned them. If I were related to the boy or the woman tourist I might be out looking for the pack with my gun right now. However, I hope that I would be able to channel my anger in the direction where it belongs - towards the human being who allegedly ill-treated the dogs and thereby allowed these two tragedies to occur. I am also worried: if there is general bad feeling towards dogs, I worry for my Simi who has never hurt anyone. And I think of how many times I have walked along that beach with her and of how easily we could have been the victims.

A friend of mine posted this video on facebook earlier this week, in an attempt to remind everyone that few dogs are aggressive. The majority of dogs are cared for and caring, give far more than they receive and can even provide a lonely owner with a reason to go on living. In return they ask only to be loved.



Cat said...

I hadn't heard that story and it is horrific. As you say though, it isn't the dogs that are bad so much as how they are treated.

Leslie: said...

Oh my gosh, such a tragedy! I am a great dog lover and hopefully will have another some day. I agree that the fault lies with the owner who abused and mistreated these animals. However, once a dog goes wild and gets the taste of blood, there is no going back. It has to be destroyed. I agree also that animals do have rights, but not to the exclusion of humans' rights. When my own dog Robbie turned aggressive and bit me twice, I went into shock from those two bites, ending up in the hospital, and I had to have him put down. I cannot imagine the panic and pain that poor little boy suffered before succumbing to his wounds. And I sure hope that lady survives her injuries and that she will not suffer from post-traumatic shock! Thanks for sharing this information and I do hope those animal rights activists will reconsider their viewpoint - hopefully without having to go through what that boy and lady went through.

Betty said...

So sad that a child lost his life. What a horrible story. I'm always amazed at how stupid people can be when it comes to animals. I always say it's not the animal's's the stupid owner's fault. People think that domestic animals can take care of themselves. Dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are dumped all the time. The ones that manage to survive multiply. There just needs to be more education about pet ownership and responsibility and it needs to start when they're children.

PinkAcorn said...

That's just terrible, those poor families.

In this economy people are abandoning pets at an alarming rate. Up in Idaho (I'm sure else where,too) people have gone so far as to tie them up to a pet store door instead of turning them in to the animal attempts to avoid all the questions and possible costs.

Saretta said...

I like dogs, too, own two now and have had many throughout my life. I do not like the southern Italian habit of leaving food out for strays while not doing anything else to care for them, ie. shelter, vetrinary care and, most importantly of all, the unwillingness to spay them. Stray dogs should be helped, fine. But, spay them, that is the best help we can provide to limit being overrun by packs, aggressive or not.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, cb. Yes, horrible. Hi, Leslie. I agree with you. I once had a dog [one that I had resued] that turned on me when he was ill and I had a similar experience to yours. It was awful and I felt so guilty. I will look up the condition of the lady and let you know. Hi, Betty. You are right. Education on this matter has to start young and there is a great need for it here. Hi, pink. I had no idea that that was happening. It is terrible. Saretta, I couldn't agree more.


View My Stats