Adorable balls of fluff as puppies, it is easy to see why many people choose huskies as a family pet.
But an extensive study shows they are among the most likely breed of dog to cause death or serious injury to humans.
According to Hill & Associates, a firm of lawyers based in Philadelphia, USA, and specialising in cases of personal injuries caused by dogs, Siberian huskies are one of the most dangerous breeds and can cause serious injury to people, particularly children.
The firm cites an earlier US study that shows Siberian huskies were responsible for 15 mauling deaths between 1979 and 1998. Research also shows that malamutes, a larger breed similar to and often confused with huskies, were responsible for 12 mauling deaths and hundreds of serious injuries over the same period.
In the past month, two children in the Mid-West have been mauled by huskies.
On Saturday, three-year-old Abby O’Donoghue had to have 60 stitches after being attacked by a husky at Ballynacally, Co Clare.
Earlier this month, Reece O’Leary, 2, from Carew Park, Limerick, was seriously injured by his family’s husky.
ISPCA dog warden for Clare, Frank Coote, said: “This is the second attack in a few weeks involving this breed but it’s not just huskies that could attack kids. Large dogs and small children just don’t mix. The potential is always there that it might attack.”
Both dogs were destroyed after the attacks, at the request of the owners.
Sean Delmar, president of the Irish Kennel Club, shares Mr Coote’s concerns.
“Never, ever leave a child alone with a dog, regardless of breed or size,” he said.
“Even if a dog is not being aggressive, he may knock a child over and cause injury that way.”
Mr Delmar said that while huskies were normally seen as placid, there would always be exceptions and these had to be guarded against. “Huskies are working, pack animals and are not genetically attack dogs. They can be very good and very placid, but only if they are reared properly.”
Mr Delmar criticised Irish legislation which, he argued, does not demand enough of dog owners.
“A lot of what is contained in the Dogs Act, such as muzzling for certain breeds, makes sense. However, there is no proper concept of the owner being responsible. Allied to that, there are no effective penalties in place when attacks occur.
“For instance, if an aggressive dog causes injury and is, consequently, put down, there is little to prevent the owner going out the next day and buying the same breed of dog again. In those circumstances, it is a bit like putting a loaded gun on the table. The gun itself is not dangerous but it can cause death or injury in the wrong hands.”
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