Shoot the puppy!
Aug 20th 2009 | COPENHAGEN
From The Economist print edition
DOGS, not recession or unemployment, are the biggest problem facing Denmark this summer, or so you would think from all the fuss about them. At his Liberal party’s summertime get-together on the Faroe Islands, the prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, solemnly promised a new law to ban aggressive breeds of dog. “We don’t want a society”, he said with furrowed brow, “where you cannot go walking with your child or your poodle without risking an attack.”
Things might seem to be going that way. According to the Danish Kennel Club, the kingdom’s population of fighting breeds such as pit-bull terriers, mastiffs and rottweilers has risen from 1,000 to 20,000 in the past five years. The incidence of attacks, mostly on other pets, has grown accordingly. Denmark’s national news agency, Ritzau, says there is a violent incident about once a fortnight. Several people have been mauled, though deaths so far have been confined to cats, rabbits and small dogs. Still, widespread worries that the next attack could kill a citizen have pushed man’s erstwhile best friend to the top of the political agenda.
However, the prime minister’s ringing proclamation was followed by a realisation that a ban on certain breeds—such as Britain introduced—might not work. Fanciers of muscular hounds with big jaws could circumnavigate the law by crossing, say, a mastiff with a pit bull, to create a perfectly legal canine nasty (as, indeed, has happened in Britain).
To meet the difficulty, Flemming Moller, a veterinarian who took over the parliamentary seat vacated when the former prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, went off to run NATO, proposed a logical, if drastic, solution: kill all mongrels. Mr Moller claims this is the only way to eliminate aggressive traits from the doggy gene pool. Only dogs registered in the national stud book have a record of their parentage and genetic traits. Other puppies, he says, could be the products of anything from joyful encounters in leafy suburbs to deliberate breeding by thugs. With some 40,000 mongrels born in Denmark every year, a mass cull of mutts would reach alarming proportions. Mr Moller is prepared for the backlash: “We will surely see lots of press photos of sweet little puppies being put down but we must be determined,” he says unflinchingly.
Happily for the puppies, Mr Moller’s idea has won little support. One outraged politician from the junior partner in the coalition, the conservatives, said he would “reach for his shotgun” if Mr Moller came calling. Indignant comments about Nazis and racial cleansing have swamped online forums. All of which leaves the government’s attempt to rein in dangerous dogs looking like, well, a dog’s dinner.
This is possibly the funniest thing to come out of Danish politics all summer!
ETA: Just to be clear, the suggestion doesn't stand a chance, what with pretty much everyone else against it. (In fact, this is just one guy really low in the hierarchy being an idiot). That + the phrasing of the article makes it pretty funny to me. No actual puppies are going to get killed.